Malnutrition is a common symptom of nursing home neglect. Failure to provide basic standards of care to nursing home residents can include failing to ensure that residents get the necessary nutrients and calories in their diet. If you have a loved one living in a nursing home, here is what you need to know about malnutrition caused by nursing home neglect. 

What is Malnutrition?

Malnutrition is defined as consuming insufficient calories and nutrients for basic health. In addition to complete neglect of a nursing home resident’s welfare, malnutrition in nursing homes can also occur due the failure to respond to conditions that prevent a resident from consuming the necessary quantities of calories and nutrients. Some of these conditions may include:

  • Physical health issues, including dental problems, chronic illness, medications that prevent nutrient absorption, loss of taste or smell, and abdominal or gastrointestinal issues
  • Mental health issues such as depression or dementia that cause a nursing home resident to refuse or fail to eat regularly
  • Social issues, including residents who refuse to eat due to isolation at mealtime
  • Economic issues, which may affect residents in nursing home facilities who are required to purchase food or meals, rather than having food included as part of the regular fees

Nursing home staff should watch out for these issues in residents, carefully monitoring the food intake of residents and taking actions to prevent long-term malnutrition. Help that nursing home staff can provide residents to avoid malnutrition includes providing feeding assistance, changing diets and providing more palatable foods, or helping residents and their families access financial assistance to ensure residents can afford sufficient, healthy food. 

Signs of Malnutrition

Unfortunately, many nursing home residents may refuse to report malnutrition or lack the cognitive capacity to recognize they are malnourished. This makes it important for family and friends of nursing home residents to recognize signs of malnutrition. The earlier malnourishment is recognized in a nursing home resident, the more likely it is that a resident can avoid the most serious complications of long-term malnutrition.

Common signs of malnutrition include:

  • Canker sores
  • Red or glassy eyes
  • Cognitive difficulties or problems communicating
  • Fatigue
  • Yellow skin
  • White fingernails
  • Heavy wrinkles
  • Bed sores
  • Dehydration
  • Withdrawal and loss of interest in activities and socialization
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Slow healing of wounds and injuries

Family members of nursing home residents can also detect signs of malnutrition by observing their loved one’s eating habits, including sharing meals with loved ones to see what foods they are eating and how much food they eat. 

Complications Caused by Malnutrition

Long-term malnutrition can cause a wide range of physical complications that, if left unchecked, can become fatal for an elderly nursing home resident. Common complications of malnutrition include:

  • Reduced effectiveness of the immune system and increased susceptibility to infection
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Decreased bone density
  • Slowed wound and injury healing
  • Difficulty regulating body temperature
  • Kidney problems, including difficulties regulating salt and fluids in the body
  • Lowered red blood cell and platelet counts
  • Abnormal endocrine function
  • Respiratory distress
  • Cardiovascular problems, including blood clots or heart failure

Contact a Rochelle Park Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer to Discuss Your Case Today

Seniors in nursing homes and other care facilities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Additionally, nursing home staff needs to ensure that patients are safe and secure at all times. If your loved one suffered an injury, or worse, due to nursing home negligence or abuse in New Jersey, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The experienced nursing home neglect attorneys at the Epstein Law Firm, P.A. represent clients throughout New Jersey, including Paramus, Ridgewood, Mahwah, and Englewood. Call (201) 380-7687 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation today. We have an office conveniently located at 340 West Passaic Street, Rochelle Park, NJ 07662.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.