When Staff Are Not Giving Your Elderly Loved One Enough Food And Water
Nursing home staff members are responsible for ensuring that each resident is given adequate and appropriate food and water. When staff members do not follow their duty of care, malnutrition and dehydration can happen. This causes unnecessary suffering and, in some cases, serious injury and death.
At Reddick Law, we hold nursing homes accountable for the care and well-being of your loved one. Call 877-930-2080 to schedule a free question and answer session regarding your loved one’s care.
Three Signs Of Elderly Malnutrition
Obviously, if your loved one is very thin or has become increasingly thin since the move to the nursing home, then there is something wrong. Speak with your loved one, ask why they are not eating. Sit with them, and watch what type of food is offered to them. Determine if the issue is that your loved one has no appetite or is having difficulty eating. Look for:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of energy
In some cases, there may be swelling or fluid in the abdomen or ankles. Malnutrition can cause a severe decrease in cognitive function, anemia (iron-poor blood), reduced strength due to muscle loss and weakened bones that break more easily. Because wounds do not heal as readily, bedsores (also called pressure sores) become more likely.
Nursing Home Meal Requirements
While it is true that seniors could have specific requirements for nutrition and frequency of meals, nursing homes should at least provide three meals daily based on a resident’s needs. Nursing homes should provide a balanced diet to meet the resident’s nutritional requirements. A diet should also comply with their care plans, specific conditions like allergies, personal preferences and other aspects like religious beliefs.
What Do I Do If My Loved One Is Not Eating Nursing Home Food?
The nursing home staff in charge of your loved one should monitor their eating habits. You can ensure the nursing staff follows the protocol and meets their unique needs. For example, an elder individual may have difficulty chewing or swallowing food. If that is the case, is your loved one being fed with minced food so they can chew or swallow properly? Is your loved one being provided with sufficient food and water to meet their nutritional needs? Otherwise, you can always request adjustments and follow up on your loved one’s health. If a nursing home fails to meet your loved one’s needs, you can also discuss your situation with an experienced attorney to learn what you can do from a legal standpoint.
Is Malnutrition The Same As Starvation?
Although malnutrition and starvation stem from a poor diet, they are not the same. Malnutrition refers to not receiving sufficient nutrients and minerals. Obese individuals may be malnourished as they may consume more calories than required but not enough nutrients. Starvation is the lack of calories and nutrients associated with food deprivation. Both conditions are life-threatening and require immediate medical treatment.
How Malnutrition Is Treated In Elderly People
Monitoring is essential to get to know the condition of an elderly individual and their specific needs. Upon medical evaluation, a health care professional may issue the relevant recommendations to treat an individual. Some of them may include high protein meals or nutritional supplements. Other recommendations include fruit juice and milk. Water is also essential to treat malnutrition and prevent or treat dehydration, which may be fatal for elderly individuals.
What Dehydration Looks Like
Because elderly people do not always experience thirst, they may forget to drink during the day. You can tell if an older person is dehydrated by observing if they drink water over the course of a couple of hours. You can also ask the staff how much water your loved one has consumed and how it is tracked.
Common physical symptoms of dehydration are:
- Headache, confusion, dizziness or fainting
- Dry mouth
- Hours without having to urinate (fewer than three times a day) dark yellow urine when urinating
- Muscle cramping
- Elevated heart rate
- Low blood pressure
If dehydration is happening at the same time as diarrhea and vomiting, it may be necessary to get medical attention. Prolonged dehydration can cause kidney damage. It is the duty of nursing home staff to ensure that the residents are getting proper nutrition and adequate fluids. Many things can cause dehydration in elderly people, including certain medications. Not providing enough water is considered nursing home neglect.
What To Do When You Suspect Dehydration
First, offer clear liquids. Water is best, but coffee or tea will also work. Electrolyte drinks can be helpful as can fruit juices. Even skim milk will help rehydrate a person. Acute dehydration will take 24-36 hours to reverse. If your loved one is not alert, is vomiting or has diarrhea, then get immediate medical attention. Be sure to write down what happened as soon as possible. Severe dehydration can be life-threatening.
Work With A Team That Understands Nursing Home Negligence
At Reddick Law, we listen. We know that you’ve experienced not only the trauma of your loved one becoming unable to care for themselves but also the trauma of witnessing the suffering that abuse and neglect inflict. We investigate what happened and then advise you on what steps can be taken to rectify the situation. In many cases, it is feasible to seek financial compensation. We’ve recovered over $1 billion for our clients.
Our experienced team of nursing home abuse and injury attorneys helps people nationwide. If your loved one is hurting, we can help. Set up a free meeting to discuss your issue. Call 877-930-2080 or connect with us via our website email form.