Nursing Home Malnutrition of Elderly
Regardless of the strict federal laws protecting nursing home abuse victims, anywhere between 35% to 50% of residents living in nursing homes in the United States have, at one point, been malnourished. At least 30% of the nation’s nursing home residents are underweight.
According to the National Resource Center on Nutrition and Aging, malnutrition happens when a person doesn’t receive enough nutrition in their diet to sustain health. Elderly people in particular are especially vulnerable. In some instances, elderly people often have small appetites, leading them to eat less frequently. Nursing homes, however, are required by state and federal laws to ensure that the residents are receiving adequate nutrition and fluids.
Reasons for Malnutrition of Elderly in Nursing Homes
Even with raised awareness, malnutrition continues to be a problem. Lack of proper care, poor training, high nursing home employment turnovers, and other factors contribute to the problem. However, it’s the shortage of staff in an overwhelming amount of nursing that seems to be the biggest problem.
According to federal nursing home laws, one certified nursing home assistant (CNA) should ideally help up to three residents during a work shift. Yet, the reality is that one CNA is typically helping over 10 residents at any given time. This sort of difficult working environment has caused the turnover rate in nursing homes to be over 90% annually.
In addition, residents with cognitive and emotional problems experience higher than average problems with eating on schedule and maintaining their weight. It takes hands-on, quality care on the part of the nursing home to ensure these residents are getting the adequate nutrition that they need.
Nursing Home Malnutrition Facts and Statistics
Malnutrition affects up to 85% of nursing home residents at some point during their stay at a nursing home facility.
Oral health, satiety, taste and smell changes, physical impairments, and mental stability can all be affected if a victim suffers from malnutrition.
Malnutrition increases the risk for serious infections, extended hospital stays, and early deaths in the elderly.
Malnutrition is frequently misdiagnosed or undiagnosed in nursing homes as nurses and other healthcare professionals are not properly assessing the victim.
Malnutrition Side Effects
In addition to being a harm unto itself, malnutrition in the elderly causes a number of other health-related side effects. These include:
- Dull eyes
- Pale skin, lips, or mouth
- Poor skin elasticity
- Confusion and disorientation
- Edema in lower arms and legs
- Dry tongue, cracked areas around the mouth, and swollen lips
- Hair thinning and/or loss
- Unusual weight loss
- Wounds that take longer than usual to heal
- Rapid deterioration of health
With the large occurrences of malnutrition happening in nursing homes, nutritional professionals advise regular nutritional screenings by qualified healthcare staff, such as dietitians and physicians. As previously mentioned, the lack of medical assessments and screenings in nursing homes is one of the reasons the disease goes undiagnosed and misdiagnosed in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Getting Legal Help in Malnutrition of Elderly Cases
If you or a loved one has been a victim to nursing home malnutrition or other nursing home neglect, an experienced nursing home abuse attorney may be able to assist you. At Brown & Brothers law firm, our team of nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers can assist you in seeking justice on behalf of your family member. Give us a call today and for a free consultation with one of our dedicated staff. You can reach us at 1-800-600-4210 or via our online submission form.