When your loved one is in a nursing home, you expect that they will be treated with respect. You expect that they will be taken to meals. If they can’t make it to breakfast, lunch or dinner, you expect that the facility will bring their meal to them instead.
Unfortunately, malnutrition can be a sign of nursing home abuse and may be a red flag that your loved one isn’t getting the care that they need. Malnutrition can occur in the elderly for many reasons, including taking medications that reduce appetite or having trouble swallowing, but it is the nursing home’s job to find ways to make sure your loved one is getting the right nutrition or supplements.
Signs of malnutrition
The signs of malnutrition may vary by person. Some of the common signs to look for include:
- Sudden weight loss
- Brittle hair
- A decreased appetite
- Wasting of the muscles
- Dehydration, which may go hand-in-hand with malnutrition
Malnutrition can lead to serious health issues, which is why it is so important to make sure the elderly eat well. If someone is dealing with dementia, then they should be monitored closely because of the higher risk of malnutrition due to a loss of the senses.
What should you do if you suspect your loved one isn’t eating enough or getting the right nutrition?
The first thing to do is to have a conversation with the nursing home to determine if your loved one is being taken to meals or if food is being provided. Talk to your loved one about why they haven’t been eating, so you can find out if they can’t see it well, aren’t able to eat on their own or have other issues that need to be addressed.
If you find that there is no identifiable reason for their malnutrition other than negligence or abuse, then you may want to look into removing them from the nursing home and seeking support for a legal case. In an emergency, this can include calling 911 for support. After that, you may be able to pursue a medical malpractice or nursing home abuse claim for malnutrition.