You expect your loved one’s nursing home to provide them with the care they need to live a high-quality life. This includes being fed a proper diet and having access to fluids. When a resident suffers injuries because their basic needs are not met, an Illinois nursing home malnutrition and dehydration lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can help.
At our Illinois law firm, we fight to uphold the rights of nursing home residents, and we encourage families to speak out and hold facilities accountable for negligence. If your loved one has been harmed in their long-term care facility, you may be able to take legal action. In order to understand if your loved one has suffered from malnutrition or dehydration because of neglect, let’s take a look at what they mean, how they happen, and the consequences of not taking in enough food or water.
Nursing Home Residents and the Risk of Malnutrition
Everyone’s dietary needs are different—especially in a long-term care facility. For example, some conditions, like diabetes, require certain restrictions or additions to keep a person as healthy as possible. When a nursing home resident is given a poor diet, they’re likely to suffer and experience a significant decline in health.
Malnutrition is the lack of proper nourishment that results from not having enough to eat, not having the right food, or not be able to eat the food supplied. In nursing homes, malnutrition is one of the leading forms of neglect. Unfortunately, it’s not always easily detectable because it can take time for signs to become apparent. If too much time passes without anyone realizing what has been happening, the consequences can be fatal.
There are, however, some signs and symptoms of malnutrition that you can be on the lookout for, including:
- Weight loss
- Fatigue or weakness
- Dizziness and confusion
- Tooth decay or swollen, bleeding gums
- Dry, yellowing skin
- Bloated midsection
- Muscle loss and fragile bones
- Worsening vision or red, glassy eyes
- Mental decline and memory loss
Even if you notice signs of malnutrition, it can be challenging to prove that negligence is happening. However, nursing home staff can be found neglectful if they fail to provide food and ensure it’s consumed regularly, ensure the food being supplied is full of vitamins, minerals, and proteins, provide adequate supervision and staff during mealtimes, educate staff on nutrition and feeding methods, monitor residents’ dietary restrictions, and measure and record food consumption.
If a resident is malnourished, it can take time for them to recover. In some instances, food needs to be reintroduced slowly. If they have medical conditions that cause vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea, it can be even harder to ensure they receive the proper nutrition. If the malnutrition is severe, the person may need to be hospitalized and monitored until their condition improves.
The Consequences of Dehydration in Nursing Homes
Nursing home residents who suffer from malnutrition are also likely suffering from dehydration, which happens when the body loses fluids and they aren’t replaced adequately. In the elderly, dehydration is especially dangerous because of the health issues it can cause or worsen. Some of the most severe consequences of dehydration include seizures, brain swelling, coma, heart attack, kidney failure, and death. Other medical conditions related to dehydration include urinary tract infections, bed sores, choking, and weight loss.
As with malnutrition, there are certain signs you can look for if you are worried your loved one is suffering from dehydration. Some of the most common signs include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Thirst and dry mouth
- Dry, red skin
- Fatigue or weakness
- Dark-colored urine or infrequent urination
- Confusion and irritability
- Inability to sweat
- Sunken eyes and cheeks
- Low blood pressure or increased heart rate
Dehydration from neglect can also be challenging to prove. Nursing home staff may be found negligent if they fail to provide water and ensure it’s consumed on a daily basis, attend to residents who require assistance to drink, monitor any problems with swallowing, be aware of the signs of dehydration, encourage fluids between mealtimes, and regularly record a resident’s IV fluid replacement.
The length of time it takes to recover from dehydration depends on a number of factors, including the resident’s underlying health conditions and what caused the lack of fluids. Dehydration is more dangerous if it’s been an ongoing problem. If a nursing home resident is admitted to the hospital for dehydration, they will likely receive electrolytes, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and sodium to rebalance the body’s fluids.
Contact Thomas Law Offices in Illinois
If your loved one has been neglected in their nursing home, an Illinois nursing home malnutrition and dehydration lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can help. We understand how difficult it is to learn your loved one hasn’t been taken care of, and we’re prepared to help you hold the at-fault party or parties responsible for their actions. Contact us today to learn more.