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The Dangers of Malnutrition and Dehydration for Nursing Home Patients

Posted on in Malnutrition

Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysA person may come to reside in a nursing home, rehabilitation hospital, or assisted living facility for a wide variety of reasons. He or she might need care on a temporary basis while recovering from a serious injury, illness, or surgical procedure. Alternatively, the person might need to live in a nursing home for the rest of his or her life.

Many residents in nursing homes are afflicted with conditions that require care and supervision 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, patients suffering from cognitive deficiencies such as those caused by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease often struggle to remember to eat and drink on their own. Such residents can quickly become malnourished or dehydrated if the staff does not pay proper attention. If your loved one is currently living in a nursing home, it is important to look for signs that he or she is not getting appropriate food and water.

Dehydration Warning Signs

According to most medical experts, the majority of Americans are at least partially dehydrated, despite virtually unlimited access to clean water. For the average person, however, it is relatively easy to get a glass of water when he or she is thirsty. This is not always the case for the resident of a nursing home. In many cases, nursing home patients might barely even register feelings of thirst. For those that do, getting a glass of water is difficult, if not impossible, due to physical limitations. Thus, they rely on staff members and orderlies to provide them opportunities to get a drink.

When a person does not drink enough water, there are physical symptoms that might quickly become obvious. Dry mouth, dry skin, dark yellow urine, and decrease in urine production are among the initial signs of early dehydration. If not addressed, dehydration will also cause sunken cheeks and eyes, decreased blood pressure, irregular respiration, and eventually unconsciousness and death.

Malnutrition Warning Signs

A healthy adult can go for about three days with no water and up to three weeks or so without food. Those with serious medical conditions and elderly individuals, however, need food and water much sooner than a young, healthy person would. A nursing home resident who is suffering from malnutrition may show indications of weight loss, bloating, slow wound healing, and dental issues, not to mention severe abdominal pain. Poor nutrition can also exacerbate health conditions and weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of infection. A malnourished patient may also be more susceptible to falls, which could cause serious injuries.

Call an Illinois Nursing Home Neglect Attorney

If you suspect that your loved one is not having his or her nutrition and hydration needs met by nursing home staff, contact a skilled Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer. Call 312-535-4625 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today.

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30228079

https://www.jamda.com/article/S1525-8610(16)30373-5/fulltext

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