Elderly nursing home residents rely on the care and attention of the staff to ensure they are protected from harm. Unfortunately, a neglectful staff can cause irreparable physical and psychological damage. Two conditions that can quickly become apparent due to nursing home neglect are malnutrition and dehydration.
- Malnutrition is the term given when a nursing home resident’s diet is deficient – generally due to a lack of quality nutrients. Malnutrition tends to be progressive, getting worse as the situation continues.
- Dehydration occurs when a nursing home resident experiences greater fluid loss than fluid intake. This imbalance can lead to numerous deadly physiological changes as well as impaired cognitive performance.
It is not uncommon for a nursing home staff to believe they have provided adequate liquid and nutrition to their residents and fail to verify their health. Residents face numerous risk factors that increase their chances to suffer from malnutrition and/or dehydration. These risk factors can include illness, drug interactions, drug side-effects, depression, reduced mobility, difficulty swallowing and mouth problems. The staff must continuously monitor the health of their residents to ensure they are receiving the proper care.
- Symptoms of malnutrition can include factors such as weight loss, dizziness, fatigue, decreased muscle mass, bloated abdomen and the inability to stay warm.
- Symptoms of dehydration can include thirst, fatigue, nausea, confusion, sluggishness and skin that is dry to the touch.
Nursing home residents might struggle with cognitive impairment. As dementia progresses, it could make it more difficult for them to self-regulate their food and liquid intake. Additionally, they might experience physiological factors such as jaw pain, difficulty swallowing, mouth sores and choking. A nursing home staff that fails to monitor and provide the individualized attention to their elderly nursing home residents can see their failing health as simply a by-product of the aging process. Unfortunately, many symptoms are ignored rather than investigated and corrected.