Many elderly individuals reach a point where they need a help taking care of their basic needs, such as food. Thankfully, when an elderly parent, relative or loved one moves into a nursing home, it’s not difficult to find a place that offers meals. But what if they aren’t receiving enough food and fluids throughout the day?
According to Aged Care Crisis, malnourishment often happens in nursing homes because audits performed at nursing homes usually check if standards are above levels that make way for malnutrition. This means the audits don’t measure actual nutrition levels of residents in the homes. Unhealthy nutrition levels can happen due to a health condition a resident may face. It can also be a result of sheer neglect by staff members.
Here are some physical and mental health conditions that lead to malnutrition and dehydration:
· Swallowing or mouth conditions like tooth loss, poor-fitting dentures or mouth pain
· Appetite loss through depression or loneliness
· Dementia that takes away resident’s ability to remember when to eat or drink
· Medication side effects, including vomiting, diarrhea or inability to absorb nutrients
Staff members don’t have control over most of these health issues. However, it should be up to the staff to give proper attention to make sure higher-need residents get the supervision and feeding help they need. When staff members don’t tend to the eating and drinking needs of a resident, this neglect is a form of elderly abuse.
Nursing home staff members may be to blame for the malnourishment or dehydration of residents if:
· They avoid feeding a resident or provide liquid supplements instead of solid foods
· They don’t administer tube feedings for residents that need them
· They don’t provide water that is easily accessible
· They don’t receive training on how to help residents eat and drink
To make sure your elderly loved one is eating and drinking enough to keep their health up, you can talk to them about how they feel physically and emotionally. Some signs of malnutrition and dehydration to look out for include weakness, weight loss, dark urine and dry lips, skin and mouth. If you detect any of these symptoms, make sure your friend or family member sees a medical professional.
You should hold nursing home staff accountable for helping your loved one follow a treatment plan they need to receive essential nutrients. And if you feel like there is enough reason to believe neglect is present, you can help your loved one report the abuse and take legal action.