Proper nutrition and hydration are critical when it comes to maintaining good health for elderly people. Nursing homes in Missouri and Illinois are required to have policies and procedures on how to maintain correct levels of nutrition and hydration in their residents and how to respond when residents exhibit signs of malnutrition or dehydration. Unfortunately, in many nursing homes, the pressure to show a large profit means that there are not enough staff members to put the policies into effect or staff members are insufficiently trained on the very policies and procedures they are to implement. And, sadly, there are some staff members who just don’t care about the needs of the residents.

Nursing homes are required to provide the care each resident needs. It goes without saying that adequate food and water is a requirement. Yet, far too often, nursing homes fail to provide residents with sufficient food and water. If your family member is in a nursing home, you may have faced this issue. Accessible water is often hard to find for residents. If water is available, it is often in a large container that the elderly resident is unable to lift. For residents with dementia, water may be accessible, but they need help from nursing home employees to get a drink and that help is often unavailable. Similarly, residents who need assistance eating are often left to fend for themselves and fail to receive the necessary sustenance. Simply stated, malnutrition is the lack of proper nutrition. Some elderly nursing home residents often have difficulty in swallowing or present with other physical or mental challenges that compromise their ability to ingest food. If your loved one doesn’t get the proper nutrition they should be receiving in a nursing home, contact our nursing home abuse attorney in St. Louis for a free consultation about the care your loved one has experienced in an Illinois or Missouri nursing home.

Other residents have good appetites but need assistance with eating. Nursing homes have many options at their disposal in assisting residents with eating, the easiest of which is having adequate staff to assist residents with eating and drinking. Unfortunately, too many nursing homes staff their facilities to the point that there is little, if any, assistance with feeding.

Nursing homes are also required to provide appetizing food and promote an environment conducive to eating. Loud dining rooms permeated by foul smells do not promote eating. Moreover, nursing home corporations often budget on average $6.00 per day for resident food, making the creation of appetizing food a challenge.

Dehydration is simply fluid deprivation. One of the easiest tasks to accomplish in a nursing home is to keep residents hydrated. Some residents are unable to access water on their own, while other residents may be on medications that require additional monitoring to avoid dehydration. Regardless, residents are often totally dependent upon nursing home staff members to give them a drink of water. Unfortunately, overworked staff members often forget to accomplish this simple task and fail to properly monitor those with additional needs. When a resident becomes malnourished or dehydrated, they become susceptible to a host of additional medical problems, such as bed sores, infection, and pneumonia.

Recognizing Nursing Home Malnutrition and Dehydration in Illinois and Missouri

Sometimes changes can be subtle and if you visit your loved one every day, you may not notice gradual changes. However, if you are just being able to visit your loved one after months of the Covid shutdown, you may be shocked in what you see. In addition to doing a thorough examination of your loved one for bruises and wounds, you should check them for signs of dehydration and malnutrition.

Common Signs of Dehydration

  • Thirst
  • Darker and more concentrated urine
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased
  • Urine output
  • Lightheadedness/dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting

Common Signs of Malnutrition

  • Significant weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness/dizziness

Additional Resources

If you have concerns about the care your loved one has received at a nursing home, contact Terry Law Firm to discuss their injuries and legal rights. There are numerous resources available to help you if you believe your family member is receiving insufficient food and water. Below are some links that will help you learn more about the issues and what you can do to protect your loved one.

Science Daily: Brain Malfunction Explains Dehydration in Elderly

The National Consumer Voice For Quality Long-Term Care (formerly National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform) report on malnutrition and dehydration can be found here.

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