Dehydration and Malnutrition

Dehydration and Malnutrition in Nursing Homes

Though elderly individuals are already at higher risk of dehydration and malnutrition due to their age and health, their chances of becoming malnourished and dehydrated increase when they do not get the proper care they need. Unfortunately, dehydration and malnutrition in nursing homes where elderly abuse and neglect is an issue.

If you suspect your loved one is the victim of malnutrition and dehydration due to nursing home abuse and neglect, contact a skilled nursing home abuse & neglect lawyer right away at (317) 401-8626.

What is Malnutrition?

Malnutrition occurs when the body doesn’t get the essential nutrients it needs to properly function. This can happen when the body is either undernourished or overnourished; however, it most often occurs in elderly individuals due to dietary imbalances that lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Older adults are also more prone to malnourishment due to their body’s inability to adequately absorb the nutrients they need from the foods they eat, which can happen as they age or due to other chronic health issues. Elderly individuals can also suffer from a reduced appetite, which can lead them to eat less and thus receive fewer nutrients.

However, another common cause of malnutrition in elderly adults is institutionalization or living in a nursing home. Those living in nursing home facilities can more easily become depressed, which can contribute to a lack of appetite. They could also suffer from abuse and neglect due to negligent nursing home staff, which could mean they are not getting the food they need to stay healthy.

What is Dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluids than it takes in. When the body isn’t adequately hydrated, it will start to struggle to carry out its normal functions. This can happen to anyone who doesn’t drink enough water, especially on hot days, but elderly individuals are particularly vulnerable to dehydration.

Chronic illness in the elderly can increase their chances of becoming dehydrated. There are also certain medications they might be on that increase urine output, which can cause dehydration. Overall, older adults also naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies, which increases their risk of becoming dehydrated.

Similar to malnutrition, dehydration can occur because the person isn’t eating and drinking enough on their own, which can happen if they are depressed or just not paying attention to their food and fluid intake. But it can also occur when they are neglected in a nursing home and caretakers are not providing them with the food and drink they need to stay hydrated.

Common Causes of Dehydration and Malnutrition in Nursing Homes

Rates of malnutrition and dehydration can be higher in nursing homes for many reasons. Because nursing homes care for elderly individuals and those individuals are naturally at higher risk of suffering from dehydration and malnutrition, this can mean that rates are higher. Patients in nursing homes might also be on medications or suffer from certain medical conditions that increase their chances of becoming dehydrated, such as Parkinson’s, stroke, tooth decay, and dementia.

However, even if a patient has a chronic illness or is on medication that increases their chances of dehydration or malnutrition, they should still be able to receive the treatment they need to prevent malnutrition or dehydration from happening. Thus, another reason why patients often suffer from these issues is because they are not getting the care they need, which is a matter of negligence on the part of the nursing home.

Negligence in nursing homes can happen for various reasons, but some of the most common causes include:

  • Poor management
  • Being understaffed
  • High staff turnover
  • Lack of training
  • Lack of resources to provide patients with what they need

Nursing home abuse and neglect can also occur when employees are not treated well and they take their frustrations out on the patients. Staff can also abuse their positions of power over patients and take advantage of their more vulnerable state by willingly choosing to abuse or neglect them. No matter how the negligence happens, however, none of it is okay, and the nursing home and its staff should be held accountable.

How to Know If Your Loved One is Suffering from Dehydration and Malnutrition in a Nursing Home

It’s important to know what signs and symptoms to look for that could indicate your loved one is suffering from dehydration or malnutrition in their nursing home. These include:

  • Low body weight
  • Prominent bones
  • Depleted fat and muscle
  • Thin arms and legs
  • Swelling in the belly and face
  • Weakness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Dry, inelastic skin
  • Brittle hair and hair loss
  • Low body temp
  • Low heart rate
  • Dry tongue and lips
  • Headaches and delirium
  • Dizziness
  • Dry cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Flushed skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Constipation
  • Dark urine

If you suspect your loved one is dehydrated or malnourished, you should report the issue right away. These serious, life-threatening issues require immediate attention to prevent long-term complications and fatalities.

Dangers of Dehydration and Malnutrition in Nursing Homes

The body needs adequate hydration and nutrients to function properly. If someone remains dehydrated or malnourished for too long, certain bodily functions can start shutting down. Malnutrition and dehydration are especially dangerous for elderly individuals who already have weaker bodies and immune systems.

The immune system is one of the first systems to shut down when someone is malnourished, which means your loved one could get sick more easily, or the health conditions they already suffer from could get worse. Cardiac activity is also affected by malnutrition, and the digestive system can start to atrophy when it doesn’t get the nutrients it needs.

When dehydrated, several complications can arise. When an elder is dehydrated for too long, they can start to experience seizures. The kidneys can also stop functioning properly and fail.

Additionally, brain swelling is an issue if a person is given too much to drink after being dehydrated. Without water, an elderly person’s body could go into shock, which could lead to coma and even death.

Nursing Home Malnutrition and Dehydration Lawsuit

It is possible to file a nursing home dehydration lawsuit or a malnutrition lawsuit. However, you will need to prove that negligence was the cause of the malnutrition and/or dehydration. Again, negligence can occur in nursing homes in various ways, but you must be able to provide proof of that negligence to win your case.

Specifically, you must show the following four things to successfully win a case against a nursing home for dehydration or malnutrition:

  1. The nursing home had a legal obligation to care for your loved one.
  2. The nursing home violated its legal duty by acting negligently.
  3. The nursing home’s negligence was the direct cause of the dehydration or malnutrition.
  4. Your loved one suffered damages as a result of the negligence.

Proving the above is not easy, but it’s also not impossible. If you suspect your loved one is suffering from dehydration or malnutrition due to nursing home abuse or neglect, you should report the issue and contact an attorney right away. A personal injury lawyer can help investigate the case and gather the evidence needed to prove that the nursing home’s negligence was the cause of the malnutrition or dehydration.

How an Indiana Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyer Can Help

When your loved one is being neglected or abused in their nursing home, a lawyer can help you navigate the legal process as you attempt to get your loved one the care they need. Nursing home abuse lawyers do so much more than representing you in court. They can walk you through the entire process of filing a lawsuit and ensure the best possible outcome for you and your loved one.

Services that a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer can provide include:

  • Advocating for your rights and the rights of your loved one.
  • Conducting an investigation to gather evidence and determine who or what was causing the malnutrition and/or dehydration.
  • Filing a civil claim to help you seek compensation for the damages suffered, such as physical pain, emotional distress, medical expenses, and more.
  • Help you file a wrongful death lawsuit if the nursing home abuse or neglect caused the death of your loved one.

Crossen Law Firm: Indianapolis Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Lawyers

Discussing your case with an experienced Indiana nursing home abuse lawyer can help you during this trying time. At Crossen Law Firm, our team will fight tirelessly on your behalf and the behalf of your loved one to help you get what you are owed. You will only pay us if we win your case.

Make the right call. Call Crossen Law Firm at (317) 401-8626 or contact our firm online.


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