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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneyThere are a myriad of reasons an individual may come to live in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or rehabilitation facility. They may only need temporary care while recovering from surgery or a serious illness, or they may need to live in the facility permanently. Nursing home residents who suffer from severe mental and physical impairments need round-the-clock care and supervision. Residents with cognitive decline or aliments like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may not even remember to eat and drink without being reminded. It is for this reason that many nursing home residents can so easily become dehydrated or malnourished. Problems like understaffing and inadequate staff training can result in staff members who are not aware of the resident’s physical and emotional needs. Sadly, nursing home neglect can and has resulted in the death of residents. If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, make sure to be vigilant for signs of neglect. 

Signs of Dehydration in Nursing Home Patients

A National Citizen's Coalition for Nursing Home Reform study found that nearly a third of nursing home residents in the U.S. suffer from dehydration or malnutrition. Symptoms of dehydration can vary depending on the age and health of a nursing home resident. The most common initial symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, dry or papery skin, dark colored urine, and a decrease in the urine production. If left untreated, dehydration can worsen and lead to sunken eyes and cheeks, low blood pressure, irregular breathing, delirium, and unconsciousness. Severe and persistent dehydration can lead to death.

Signs of Malnutrition in Nursing Home Residents

The average human body can go about three days without water and about three weeks without food. However, elderly individuals or those with a serious illness or disability are much more sensitive to dehydration and malnutrition than the average person is. Signs of malnutrition can include abdominal pain and bloating, weight loss, changes in how clothing fits, weakness, poor wound healing, and dental problems. Malnutrition in elderly nursing home residents can exacerbate existing health problems as well as cause a weakened immune system which increases the risk of infections. Decreased bone mass and muscle weakness due to malnutrition can make a nursing home resident more likely to fall and be seriously injured or killed.

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Illinois nursing home neglect lawyerThere are many different reasons a person may bring a lawsuit against a nursing home or medical staff member. Sometimes a nursing home harms a resident not by what they did but by what they failed to do. Residents in a nursing home are often elderly, suffering from age-related illnesses, or recovering from surgery. They therefore require a much higher level of care than a healthy person would. When nursing homes are understaffed or for other reasons cannot adequately care for their residents, the residents’ health may suffer as a result. One of the most common ailments caused by nursing home neglect is dehydration

The Sick and Elderly Are Especially Vulnerable

While a human can survive without food for an impressive three weeks or more, water is a different story. Our bodies crave water, and without it, they start to shut down. Most individuals would die without water within a mere three days. When nursing home residents do not get enough to drink, they can suffer from considerable health consequences and physical discomfort.

Dehydration is sadly quite common among elderly residents staying in nursing homes. There are a few reasons for this. Some residents have physical disabilities which make it difficult to sit up or swallow water. Other residents have trouble speaking and cannot tell staff when they are thirsty. Those residents with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other cognitive impairments may not be able to recognize when they are dehydrated, let alone express this to nursing home staff. Because many residents cannot do so themselves, nursing home staff have a duty to monitor residents’ hydration and make sure they are getting enough to drink. When nursing home staff fail to uphold this serious responsibility, they and the organization they work for can be held legally liable for residents’ suffering and harm.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysThe people who call nursing homes their residence are generally unable to care for themselves. Caused by either physical disability or mental, nursing home residents often have trouble expressing when they are being mistreated. Sometimes, residents do not have the memory to report times they have been neglected by staff and other times they are afraid to report abuse or neglect because they fear retaliation. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, be on the lookout for the following signs of mistreatment.

Major Changes in Mood or Behavior

If your loved one has become much more withdrawn or unhappy, this can be a sign that something is not right at their nursing home. While these symptoms alone are not enough to accuse the staff of abuse, patterns of sadness or irritability which coincide with certain staff members or activities could be an indication that something is not right. If a nursing home resident is hesitant or outright afraid to go to certain areas or be around certain people, more investigation is needed as to the cause of the apprehension.

Unexplained Bruises or Injuries

It can be very difficult to find signs of physical abuse on a nursing home resident. Many medications and illnesses can cause individuals to easily bruise and sometimes residents have accidents where they simply bump into something. However, if you are noticing a pattern of unexplained injuries or staff cannot account for when the injury occurred, this may be a sign your loved one is being physically abused. If your loved one experiences unexplained weight loss, this could be a warning that he or she is not getting enough to eat and drink. Sadly, short-staffed nursing homes can sometimes skip basic duties like feeding and hydrating residents.

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