As adults grow older and frailer, they sometimes arrive at a point at which they need more assistance and care than what their families can provide. Families struggle with this decision but ultimately may decide to entrust a nursing home or long-term care facility with the care of their loved one.

The expectation in these situations is that their loved ones will receive all the medical, physical, emotional, and social support they need—much better than what could have been provided by family members.

So, when family members see signs that the most fundamental needs of their loved ones—food and water—are not being met, surprise quickly turns to frustration, which quickly turns to outrage.

If you suspect that a resident of a nursing home is suffering from dehydration and malnutrition, rather than let your anger fester toward no end, call a dehydration and malnutrition lawyer in Phoenix, AZ who is familiar with the complicated workings of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Call Zanes Law. Our dehydration and malnutrition lawyers in Phoenix, AZ will do everything from A to Z to see that your loved one or family is compensated for this abuse and neglect. Our number is (866)-499-8989, and we will meet you wherever and whenever it suits you.

Understanding Malnutrition in the Elderly

According to the American Journal of Nursing (AJN), a 2013 review of 77 studies revealed that 20 to 39 percent of nursing home residents were malnourished, and 47 to 62 percent of nursing home residents were at risk for malnutrition.

Many physical changes that accompany the aging process factor into these numbers. Also, the possible psychological and social components of aging, like isolation, depression, and dementia, play a role in the increased potential for malnutrition.

Risk Factors Associated With Malnutrition in the Elderly

  • Decreased mobility
  • Dental problems
  • Sensory changes that later taste, smell and vision
  • Changing metabolism and absorption of nutrients
  • Chronic health conditions
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Social isolation

Signs and Symptoms That Might Indicate Malnutrition

Malnutrition affects the body in many ways. Often the signs can be quite apparent. According to Medical News Today, Some characteristics of malnutrition include:

  • Decreased muscle mass and body fat
  • Constantly feeling cold
  • No appetite or interest in food or drink
  • Wounds taking longer to heal
  • Tiredness
  • Frequent sickness
  • Depression
  • Lack of concentration

As malnutrition progresses to a more serious state, signs and symptoms might include:

  • Drying, sparse hair that falls out
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sunken eyes
  • Hollow cheeks
  • Gaunt face
  • Cold, dry, pale skin
  • Heart failure
  • Respiratory failure

Possible Consequences of Malnutrition

According to Mayo Clinic, If left unchecked, malnutrition in the elderly can develop into several health problems, including:

  • Falls and fractures caused by weak muscles and decreased bone mass
  • Higher risk of infections, due to a weakened immune system
  • Wounds take a long time to heal and do not heal properly
  • Increased risk of death

Understanding Dehydration in the Elderly

As adults begin to age, the total amount of water in their bodies decreases. When combined with other factors of aging, like less sensitivity to thirst, malfunctioning kidneys, and diminished mobility, it all adds up to older adults’ suffering a higher risk of dehydration. The numbers increase past the age of 85 or for the elderly who have been institutionalized.

Preventing Malnutrition and Dehydration in Nursing Homes

Nursing homes can and should take reasonable care to ensure that their residents are consuming plenty of food with the nutrients they need, as well as the amount of water they need to remain hydrated.

Regulating Meals’ Nutritional Content

Any facility that benefits from Medicaid and Medicare funding is required to issue three meals daily that “meet the nutritional needs of residents in accordance with established national guidelines.”  But just because a nutritionally adequate meal is offered, does not mean nursing home residents will eat it.

Promoting Residents’ Healthy Eating

Nurses and staff can take simple measures to encourage better eating habits among residents:

  • Helping residents with their dentures
  • Positioning residents correctly to eat safely
  • Encouraging residents to self-feed
  • Assisting residents with cutting food and opening packages
  • Encouraging residents to eat in the dining room with other residents
  • Ensuring that feeding assistants interact with residents as they eat
  • Refer residents as needed to specialists, like dentists, nutritionists, counselors and doctors who can address specific issues interfering with residents’ healthy eating habits

Nursing Staff Preventing Dehydration

A nursing home staff can help residents maintain healthy hydration by:

  • Offering fluids both between meals and during meals
  • Adjust the consistency of beverages to suit residents’ ability to swallow
  • Serving residents’ foods that contain high levels of water (fruits, soup, yogurt)
  • Provide specialized cups and straws to help residents drink
  • Refer residents as needed to specialists who can document fluid intake

What to Do When You Suspect That a Nursing Home Resident is Suffering from Dehydration and Malnutrition

Given that a nursing home’s sole purpose is to provide for the physical and emotional health of its residents when a resident suffers from malnutrition and dehydration, the facility has failed in its mission.

This failure to fulfill a duty of care constitutes abuse and/or neglect. The care providers were negligent, and more than likely, the physical condition that developed from this malnutrition and dehydration prompted additional medical problems in the resident.

You, as the loved one of the suffering resident, have the right to take legal action against the nursing home and/or its staff.

Chances are, your loved one’s dehydration and malnutrition played a role in other health conditions. Although legal action will not change what your loved one has suffered, a settlement or verdict award for your damages can:

  • Help cover the cost of medical bills
  • Provide for relocation to another nursing home facility
  • Prompt better care down the road

A Dehydration and Malnutrition Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ Will Help You

Dehydration and malnutrition lawyers in Phoenix, AZ from Zanes Law want to help you resolve your loved one’s pain and see that the negligent parties who facilitated the dehydration and malnutrition pay for their actions. We will do everything from A to Z to make this happen.

Call our firm today at (866)-499-8989 for a no-charge, no-obligation consultation.

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