Malnourishment and lack of proper nutrition are prevalent issues in nursing homes. Elderly individuals need all their vitamins and minerals every single day to meet their bodies’ demands. If the diet that the nursing home provides its residents does not contain the proper nutrients, malnutrition is going to become an issue among the population. Unfortunately, undernourishment is common in nursing homes today. Nursing homes need to take into consideration the menu choices they offer their patients in order to nourish them properly.
Another important problem in nursing homes today is dehydration. Along with malnutrition, dehydration represents one of the most common health issues in nursing home residents. Studies show that nearly 1,600,000 elderly people live in nursing homes in the United States and about one third of them have to deal with some kind of malnourishment. It may be incredible to believe, but in some nursing homes, malnutrition can affect as many as 85% of the residents. Also, there are a number of elderly people who are underweight; that number accounts for up to 50% of the residents in most nursing homes.
Undernourishment can cause a wide array of consequential health problems that could easily be prevented with proper nutrition. Improper nutrition is normally caused by the disregard of the staff members in a nursing home, carelessness, and lack of concern.
Nursing home staff can be responsible for the large spread of malnutrition among the elderly population. Often times the task of choosing the proper meal options and providing them to the elderly is left to a single staff member for every 9 residents. Also during the evening, up to 15 patients are in the charge of one single certified nursing assistant. This ratio is hugely inappropriate, as studies have shown that the ratio should be 2-3 patients per one certified nursing assistant. This lack of proper staffing can be the cause of malnutrition in nursing homes.
Additionally, turnover rates among certified nursing assistants is 93% each year. This can cause practical errors and training deficiencies that could affect the care of the elderly.
Due to the fact that elderly individuals already have a weaker immune system, elder malnourishment can cause further problems and health issues. Physical and mental difficulties might appear if the elder is not properly nourished. Family members of elders living in nursing home facilities should take a close look at possible telltale signs of elderly malnutrition.
Some of the signs of elderly malnutrition may include, but are not limited to:
– Oral Symptoms: Family members might find canker sores and excessive redness in the mouth of the patient. Also, thrush and perhaps a yeast infection could be the culprit of white patches in the cheeks and tongue of the malnourished patient.
– Debilitate Muscles: When the body runs out of nutrients that are stocked in the muscles, the muscles might become noticeably flaccid. Another sign of debilitating muscles due to malnutrition is prolonged fatigue.
– Eye Symptoms: If the patient experiences eye redness or swollen corneas, malnourishment could be the culprit. This can cause the elder’s vision to also become deteriorated.
If a family member of an elderly patient suspects that possible malnutrition is affecting the patient due to unsuitable care from a nursing home’s staff, a proper analysis of the situation might be necessary. A lawsuit might be necessary to request compensation if a nursing home is found to fall short in the care of its residents in the area of food and nutrition.