Dehydration and Malnutrition in Nursing Homes
When basic needs are neglected, call our attorneys
Federal and state laws and regulations are put into place to protect your loved ones and ensure they are properly cared for in nursing homes. Unfortunately, some facilities disregard these laws and neglect residents’ basic needs like nutrition and hydration. When these essential needs are neglected, the consequences can be severe.
At Hal Waldman & Associates, we believe the most fundamental needs, including proper nutrition and hydration, should never be overlooked. When trust is shattered and the health of your loved one is compromised due to neglect, we’re here to support you. Contact us today to see how an experienced nursing home neglect lawyer can help.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluids than it takes in. This can happen when someone doesn’t drink enough water or loses fluid through sweating or urinating. When someone doesn’t intake enough fluids, their body can’t perform normal functions, and they become dehydrated.
Dehydration can vary in severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. The symptoms experienced by someone who is dehydrated depend on the severity of their condition. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of dehydration include:
- Feeling extremely thirsty
- Dark urine
- Dry mouth
- Pale, dry skin
- Feeling tired and weak
- Swollen feet
Dehydration from nursing home neglect
Dehydration can happen to nursing home residents for different reasons, but nursing home neglect is usually a factor, often due to understaffing and neglect of basic needs. When they don't receive enough fluids or help with drinking, residents’ hydration levels decline. Insufficient attention to residents' basic needs and a lack of access to water are common outcomes of understaffed environments.
Consequences of dehydration
- Kidney stones: When nursing home residents don’t drink enough water, their urine becomes more concentrated. Concentrated urine causes tiny crystals to form in the kidney that can turn into kidney stones, and when they move through the body, they are very painful.
- Seizures: When residents are dehydrated, they’re not receiving the minerals and fluids their brain needs to function. When these levels get too low, it can lead to seizures.
- Urinary tract infections (UTI): The urinary tract system can’t flush out bacteria when the body isn’t getting enough water. This makes it easy for bacteria to grow in the urinary tract, causing UTIs.
- Pneumonia: Dehydration can cause your loved one’s respiratory tract to become dry, making it easier for germs to enter and spread to the lungs, causing infections like pneumonia.
- Hypovolemic shock: When the body loses too much fluid through dehydration, it can't pump enough blood to the organs. This can cause a dangerous condition called hypovolemic shock, where the body can't get enough oxygen and nutrients to work properly.
- Death: In severe cases of dehydration, organs can fail, leading the body to shut down completely.
What is malnutrition?
Malnutrition occurs when the body doesn’t get the right amount of nutrients it needs. The body requires vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats. When someone doesn’t get enough of these nutrients, it can lead to serious health problems like malnutrition.
Malnutrition can be prevented or treated by knowing the warning signs and symptoms. Some common signs of malnutrition to watch out for include:
- Weight loss
- Fatigue and weakness
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dry hair
- Dry skin
- Swollen mouth or mouth sores
Malnutrition from nursing home neglect
Nursing home neglect, especially in understaffed facilities, can lead to malnutrition. When residents don't receive proper meals or assistance with eating, their nutritional intake can become inadequate. Understaffing often results in rushed or incomplete meal support.
Consequences of malnutrition
- Osteoporosis: Nutrients like calcium and vitamin D are crucial for bone health. When the body is malnourished, it cannot absorb them. Over time, this causes the bones to become weak, making them brittle and more prone to fractures.
- Anemia: Malnutrition can lead to deficiencies in nutrients like iron and vitamin B12 needed to produce red blood cells. A lack of red blood cells can cause anemia, resulting in fatigue, weakness, pale skin, and shortness of breath.
- Dental issues: Malnutrition can make the teeth and gums weak. Without the proper nutrients, the teeth become more vulnerable to cavities, infections, gum diseases, tooth loss, and other dental problems.
- Skin problems: The skin needs nutrients to be healthy and promote healing. Malnutrition causes the skin to become dry and thin, making it itchy, irritated, and more prone to infections. The risk of bedsores increases as well.
Get a compassionate nursing home neglect attorney who fights hard for Pittsburgh families
There is no reason why any nursing home resident should suffer from dehydration or malnutrition, but unfortunately, many do. These cases of neglect are preventable, and facilities need to be held accountable when they fall short of that standard. At Hal Waldman & Associates, we take nursing home neglect cases seriously.