Phoenix Elder Malnutrition Attorneys
Elder Malnutrition in Nursing Homes is More Common than You Think
Baby Boomers have caused an explosion of the aging population in the United States. Because of this, approximately 1.6 million people are residents of American nursing homes, and about a third of them suffer from malnutrition or dehydration. In some nursing homes, the malnutrition rate is estimated to be as high as 85%. Elder malnutrition in nursing homes occurs when residents are simply not being given the proper amount of nutrition. This is the cause of many different ailments, including tooth decay, anemia, broken bones, low blood pressure, and in some cases, even death. The saddest thing about this problem is that it’s entirely preventable.
Causes of Malnutrition in Nursing Homes
There are a number of reasons behind the epidemic of malnutrition in nursing homes, some more significant than others. These causes include:
- Poor dental health: As we age, our teeth begin to deteriorate, making it harder to chew food. This can be remedied by getting dental work for patients, as well as making sure they have access to nutritious food they can consume without chewing.
- Mental issues: Many people in nursing homes suffer from isolation, loneliness, depression, and other mental conditions. These can all affect one’s appetite, particularly because eating has a social element for many people. The staff should get mental help for these people or make meals more social - theme meals, group meals, etc.
- Medications: Certain medications can suppress the appetite. A doctor may be able to adjust the dosage or change the medication to counteract the lack of appetite.
- Diet: Many institutions like nursing homes and hospitals have bland or repetitive menus, causing patients to have a lack of interest in the food. A nursing home could consider bringing in a professional chef and nutritionist to adjust the menu.
- Lack of staff or poorly trained staff: Many nursing home patients are unable to feed themselves and must have help from properly trained staff. Also, staff are needed to prepare and serve food to the patients. A lack of manpower can delay or cut off a patient’s access to food. The obvious answer to this problem is for the facility to hire more people. Unfortunately, this can be difficult because many nursing facilities have very limited budgets. Also, many jobs at these facilities do not pay well, resulting in a very high turnover rate for nursing home workers.
Symptoms of Malnutrition in the Elderly
If you suspect a loved one isn’t receiving the proper nourishment at his or her nursing home, these are the signs you can look for:
- Excessive red color around lips and inside of mouth, canker sores, thrush or yeast infections, which appear as white spots on the cheek and tongue
- Weak muscles, which are a result of nutrients from the muscles being taken in order to make up for the lack of nutrition
- Blurry vision or worsened vision, swelling of the corneas, or red or glassy eyes
- Lack of focus
- Increased irritability
- Dementia, in the most extreme cases
- Yellowish or jaundiced-looking skin; skin may also appear dull
- Fingernails turning white
If you’ve noticed any of the above signs of elder malnutrition in your loved ones, or you just suspect that they’re not getting enough to eat, there is something you can do. Start by talking to loved ones and asking about the meals being served by nursing home staff. Ask about the quality of food, and whether or not they feel full after they’ve eaten. If you feel as though elder malnutrition is occurring in the nursing home, call an attorney at Breyer Law Offices, P.C.
Get a Free Consultation from The Husband and Wife Law Team
At Breyer Law Offices, P.C., we’ll review your case and call in our team of doctors and nutritional experts who will also review your loved one’s case. If they feel that elder malnutrition is taking place at the nursing home, we’ll take it to court and get compensation for your loved one’s suffering. Call our Phoenix nursing home abuse lawyers today, at (602) 267-1280 to get a free case evaluation.