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Signs of nursing home abuse: malnutrition and dehydration

When you made the decision to put your loved one in a nursing home, one of your biggest reasons was probably to help them get the care and attention they need for both their health and safety. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect is a sad reality in nursing homes in Chicagoland and across the nation. One type of nursing home abuse or neglect is neglecting the elder resident or not offering proper care to the point they become malnourished or dehydrated.

Malnutrition and dehydration are serious issues that can cause great harm to your loved one's health and wellbeing, and can even lead to death if left untreated. Especially at an age where their health is likely vulnerable, it is important to get enough to eat and stay hydrated. When a nursing home resident needs assistance in feeding, and staff neglect to help them eat, that is a form of abuse.

Who is most at risk of malnutrition in a nursing home?

Nursing home residents who are at risk of being neglected because they need help eating include residents with:

  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer's
  • General state of confusion
  • Depression or anxiety disorders

What other factors contribute to malnourishment?

Other reasons why it may be difficult to eat at a nursing home include having missing teeth or ill-fitting dentures. This can make chewing difficult, and if a nursing home does not catch the problem and work to help them get the dental care they need in order to be able to eat, this can be another form of neglect.

If your loved one has dietary restrictions because of food allergies, or religious reasons for abstaining from certain foods, and the nursing home does not offer alternative options for food, your loved one could go hungry. Checking to make sure they have food available that will meet your loved one's dietary restrictions and needs is something you shouldn't have to do, but is a good idea to make sure they won't be going hungry.

When are residents at risk for dehydration?

When nursing homes are understaffed or do not take the proper care to make sure their residents are staying on top of drinking enough water or fluids, your loved one could become dehydrated. For example, if your loved one is depressed and doesn't have the desire or energy to drink water, a nursing home staff member should be monitoring your loved one closely and making sure to offer fluids or encourage your loved one to have something to drink.

If dehydration becomes severe, it can lead to serious health consequences. Issues include problems with digestion, risk of urinary tract infections, migraines, bedsores from dry skin, kidney failure and the most severe consequence of all is death.

What should I do if I suspect my loved one is being abused or neglected?

For the health and safety of your loved one, it is important to act quickly if you notice signs of abuse or neglect, or if you simply suspect something is not right. Your loved one is in the hands of caregivers who should be providing adequate care, attention and making sure your loved one is getting enough nutrition and hydration - as these things are the foundation of good health.

An experienced nursing home abuse attorney can help answer questions and guide you on how to act if your loved one is neglected in a nursing home, or at risk of abuse. Many attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not have to pay anything upfront - they only collect fees if you win a case. Consulting with a nursing home abuse lawyer can help you get the answers you need, and help you on the road to getting your peace of mind back when it comes to your loved one.

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