Symptoms of Nursing Home Dehydration and Malnutrition
No nursing home resident should be denied quality care or basic sustenance. Among the frequent, but hidden causes of wrongful death and injury to nursing home residents are various forms of substandard nursing care, especially nursing home dehydration and malnutrition.
Nursing homes are required by federal regulations to ensure the following:
- Residents receive a diet adequate to meet their nutritional needs
- Residents receive sufficient fluid intake to maintain proper health and hydration
The nursing home staff is required to monitor the resident’s nutrition and hydration and to develop proper care plans when there are deficiencies. It is often difficult for family members to assess whether the resident is receiving proper food and fluids. Consequently, they must rely on the nursing home staff to properly monitor their loved one’s condition.
When nursing home residents do not receive proper nutrition and hydration, a number of ill-effects on their overall health can occur:
- The resident becomes more susceptible to injury and illness, especially pressure ulcers (bedsores), because lack of water and nutrients compromise the health of the skin
- The likelihood of nursing home falls increases due to muscle wasting
- The resident’s immune system is suppressed, resulting in an increased susceptibility to infection and disease
- Once the resident does, in fact, suffer injury or become ill, he or she may experience significant barriers to recovery
Careful review of the resident’s chart will often show that a significant event—such as a fall or a bedsore—is in fact the culmination of long-term nursing home dehydration and malnutrition.
The problems of nursing home dehydration and malnutrition themselves are caused by the failure of the nursing home staff to assess and monitor the resident’s hydration and nutrition.
Symptoms of nursing home malnutrition:
- Slow healing wounds
- Inflamed or swollen eyelids
- Weight loss
- Unusual fatigue
- Consistent complaints of hunger (especially in patients who need assistance in eating)
- Muscle wasting
- Excessive tooth decay
- Tooth loss
- Sores, redness, fungus, or swelling inside of mouth
- Lacking energy, enthusiasm, or appears depressed or irritable
Symptoms of nursing home dehydration:
- Dry mouth and gums
- Extreme fatigue
- Muscle cramping
- Flushed skin
- Loss of appetite
- Dark colored urine
- Dry skin
Dehydration and inadequate nutrition can be a medical emergency.
If you suspect your loved one is suffering from malnutrition or dehydration first seek medical assistance. If you don’t feel like you’ve been heard don’t hesitate to escalate your concerns.
If you feel that your loved one is or has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, file an Illinois nursing home complaint here.