Nursing Home Malnutrition Lawyers in New Mexico
What Is Elder Malnutrition in Nursing Homes?
Nutrition is an essential factor in health and longevity, particularly among older people. Nursing homes have a responsibility under federal laws to meet residents’ nutritional needs. Despite these requirements, many older people residing in nursing homes are malnourished or dehydrated, and many are underweight. If you have seen signs of malnutrition in a loved one living a nursing home, call Sorey, Gilliland & Hull, LLP at (903) 290-1774 right away. We represent victims of nursing home abuse and neglect and their families.
Malnutrition occurs when an elderly nursing home resident is either not getting enough food or is not getting foods that contain adequate amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for basic levels of health. As stated by the Mayo Clinic, malnutrition in older people can lead to a range of health issues, including:
- Weakened immune system
- Increased risk of infection
- Poor wound healing
- Muscle weakness
- Decreased bone mass
- Higher risk of falls and fractures
- Higher risk of hospitalization
- Increased risk of death
What Causes Malnutrition in Nursing Homes?
As stated in an article published by The Commonwealth Fund, malnutrition and dehydration have many causes or contributing factors in nursing homes. These factors include:
- Inadequate staffing: Many nursing homes are understaffed. One certified nursing assistant (CNA) typically helps seven to nine residents eat and drink at each meal during the day and helps up to 12 to 15 residents with the evening meal. Ideally, the ratio would be one CNA for every two to three residents who require assistance with eating.
- High yearly turnover rate: High turnover of nursing home staff leads to inconsistencies in resident care.
- Chronic conditions, such as depression and dementia: These conditions and the side effects of their treatment are major factors in nursing home resident malnutrition. Older people with depression are more likely to experience weight loss.
- Limited choices in diet: Nursing home residents are typically not offered many choices in what they eat. Cultural and ethnic food preferences are often ignored.
- Poor dental health: Oral health problems can affect appetite and make it difficult for older residents to eat.
Malnutrition and dehydration in nursing homes could be prevented with appropriate evaluation of individual residents, proper meal planning, and effective delivery of fluids and nutritious foods to residents. Unfortunately, many nursing homes nationwide fail to provide this most basic type of care.
Types of Malnutrition in Nursing Homes
Malnutrition among elderly nursing home residents can be divided into four different categories as to the main causes:
- Physical malnutrition: This involves physical factors that affect the resident’s nutrition, such as dental problems, diminished taste and smell, abdominal issues, chronic illness, and medications that interfere with the absorption of nutrients.
- Mental malnutrition: In this category, depression or dementia can lead to malnutrition. Dementia affects the ability to perform daily tasks. Medications to treat depression can cause a lack of appetite.
- Socioeconomic malnutrition: Economic and social issues, such as low income, social isolation, and loss of interest in eating can lead to malnutrition in older people. In nursing homes, malnutrition may result from loss of interest in eating caused by medications, grief, food lacking in flavor due to dietary restrictions, and lack of mobility.
- Malnutrition from neglect: Nursing home residents can become malnourished and dehydrated when negligent staff do not offer enough food or fluids and fail to monitor the consumption of proper nutrients. If your elderly loved one is suffering from malnutrition for these reasons, you may have a negligence claim against the nursing home.
What Are the Symptoms of Malnutrition?
According to the Mayo Clinic, it is a good idea to visit the nursing home at mealtimes to observe your loved one’s eating habits. Make sure you know what medications your loved one is taking, as many drugs can affect appetite, digestion, and nutrient absorption. Be alert for red flags, including:
- Weight loss (note any changes in how your loved one’s clothing fits)
- Poor wound healing
- Dental problems
- Weakness resulting in falls
Nursing Home Malnutrition Facts
- At least one-third of the 1.6 million nursing home residents in the U.S. are malnourished or dehydrated.
- Malnutrition and dehydration can cause or aggravate serious health problems, including tooth decay, anemia, broken bones, and low blood pressure.
- As reported in the article, one study found that as many as 85% of elderly residents in some U.S. nursing homes are malnourished.
- Between 30% and 50% of residents in some nursing homes are underweight.
- In some American nursing homes, the extent of malnutrition and dehydration is comparable to what is found in poor, developing countries, with an inadequate intake of food compounded by repeatedly occurring infections.
- Undernourished nursing home residents suffer from a number of health issues that could be easily prevented with proper nutrition.
Why You Need an Attorney
To recover compensation in a nursing home malnutrition claim, you will need to prove that negligence of the facility or its staff caused your loved one’s malnutrition and injuries. Our experienced Albuquerque nursing home neglect lawyers can thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s malnutrition, collect and preserve evidence, identify liable parties, take action to correct the problem, and tenaciously pursue the compensation your family deserves.
Get in Touch with Our Firm
Our legal team at Sorey, Gilliland & Hull, LLP is committed to holding negligent nursing homes accountable and helping injured victims pursue the compensation they deserve. Contact us today if your elderly loved one has suffered malnutrition caused by nursing home neglect.