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Sudden Weight Loss and Malnutrition in Nursing Homes
One of the leading forms of neglect among nursing home residents is malnutrition. Sudden weight loss isn’t always an indicator of malnutrition; it’s also important to remember that people who are overweight can also suffer from malnutrition.
That makes it tricky to figure out, especially if you suspect your loved one is malnourished. But how can you tell for sure?
Symptoms of Malnutrition in Nursing Homes
Malnutrition occurs when the body is deprived of vitamins and minerals, and some of the symptoms include:
- Poor wound healing
- Weight loss (sometimes, but not always)
- Easy bruising
- Dental problems
- Muscle weakness
- A weak immune system; difficulty bouncing back after an illness
- Decreased mental capabilities
- Dry skin
- Bloated abdomen
Short-Staffed Nursing Homes and Malnutrition
Many nursing homes are short on staff, but that is not an excuse for neglecting patients’ needs. If your loved one lives in a short-staffed nursing home, his or her dietary needs can easily be overlooked – and that can spell disaster, leading to a life-threatening situation.
Checking on Your Loved One’s Physical Condition
Many experts suggest visiting your loved one during mealtime if you suspect that he or she isn’t getting the proper nutrients. You can check the food, find out how much your loved one is eating, and determine whether there’s a cause for concern.
It never hurts to take your loved one to an independent doctor for an evaluation, or to bring an independent doctor in – in fact, it could save his or her life.
Talking to Nursing Home Management about Malnutrition
It’s usually a good idea to raise your concerns with nurses, physicians and other caregivers, and in some cases, you’ll need to go higher. Any good nursing home director will be glad to meet with you, particularly if you’re concerned about your loved one’s standard of care.
If your loved one has suffered from malnutrition because they’re the victims of neglect or abuse, it might also be a good idea to talk to an attorney who deals with cases like these. Your loved one may be entitled to reimbursement for the inadequate care he or she received, for medical costs, and for other issues that have arisen because of their malnutrition.