Dehydration and Malnutrition at Nursing Homes
Dehydration and malnutrition are serious problems for patients in nursing home facilities. Dehydration is when the resident does not take in adequate fluids to perform the body’s normal function. Malnutrition is lack of proper nutrition caused by not have enough food or eating enough of the right foods.
Nursing home patients are at risk of dehydration and malnutrition based on several factors. Many nursing facility patients have a dementia diagnosis, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and are unable to speak up for themselves when they are thirsty or hungry. Additionally, these patients might have trouble stating what food they like and dislike. They depend on nursing home staff to anticipate their needs and their know preferences. When staff members are not attentive to these patients, dehydration and weight loss can quickly occur. High staff turnover and use of contract staff have a negative impact, as agency nurses and aides are often unfamiliar with patients, their assistance needs, and their food preferences.
Additionally, many nursing home patients are physically unable to feed themselves. They rely on nursing staff support to help them eat. Staff supervision and assistance is the dining room is imperative; however, staffing shortages in many nursing facilities mean that these patients aren’t provided with the supervision that they require to support their food and fluid intake.
Symptoms of Dehydration and Malnutrition
While it’s recommended that the average adult have a water intake (including water in food and drinks) of 3.7 liters for day for men and 2.7 liters per day for women, the average patient in nursing homes only consumes between 1.5 – 2 liters per day.
The symptoms of dehydration may be subtle and mirror symptoms of other conditions, so it’s important to be aware of common signs of dehydration. Symptoms include increased thirst, dry mouth, decreased urine output, dry skin, and dizziness.
Malnutrition symptoms may include loss of appetite, loss of fat and body tissue, tiredness and irritability.
Complications of Dehydration and Malnutrition in Nursing Home Residents
Patients who do not have their fluid intake met while in a nursing facility can have significant complications associated with dehydration. Dehydration is hard on a patient’s kidneys and can lead to kidney failure. Patients with dehydration can suffer an electrolyte imbalance, which can cause seizures. Severe dehydration can lead to hypovolemic shock, coma, and death.
Elderly who are malnourished get sick more easily, take longer to recover after illness, and have longer healing time for skin injuries, such as wounds. Weight loss caused by malnutrition can lead to muscle loss and result in frailty and falls.
A Family Member was Injured at a Nursing Home. Can I Take Action?
Nursing facilities are required to provide patients with nourishing, well-balanced food and adequate hydration to meet dietary requirements. Many skilled nursing facilities neglect to provide this for the patients in their care. Cost cutting efforts by the facility can mean that the quality of food provided is sub-par. Limited staffing often results in patients who need assistance for eating and drinking to lack necessary support during meal times and to encourage drinking throughout the day.
Nursing Home Lawyers in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania nursing home lawyers can help you take legal action if a family member has become dehydrated or malnourished while in a nursing home. Nursing home lawsuits involving dehydration and malnutrition are complex and require significant resources. Trust your case to a nursing home attorney with a proven track record of winning nursing home lawsuits. Our PA nursing home attorneys will take the time to listen to you individual situation and provide that skilled advice you need to take action.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.