Prevent Nursing Home Malnutrition

No two nursing home neglect cases are identical. Sure, the same injuries and accidents pop up again and again, like pressure sores, falls, and wandering. But the exact legal ramifications of each individual incident depend on many different factors, including the exact conduct of caregivers, actions taken (or not taken) by administrators, and the resident’s individual vulnerabilities.

Nursing home laws require caregivers to complete an individual assessment of each resident that is admitted into the home. This individual assessment should then lead to the creation of a tailored care plan that takes the resident’s particularized needs into account. This ensures that there is no “one size fits all” approach to eldercare.

Unfortunately, caregivers often cut corners and provide and less than thorough initial assessment. This paves the wave for poor care that can prove deadly.

Consider the scourge of malnutrition among the elderly in nursing homes. The Nutritional Institute reports that malnutrition and aging go hand in hand for numerous reasons, including:

    • Decreased sense of smell and taste can affect appetite
  • Poor oral health can lead to difficulty or even painful eating
  • Mobility problems can lead to lack of access to nutrition
  • Educational deficits may lead to poor diets lacking in proper nutrients

It is hard to overestimate the consequences of progressive malnutrition. Poor nutrition can lead to decreased muscle mass, resulting in mobility problems and an increasing dependence on others. Malnourishment has also been associated with deteriorating cognitive conditions. With Alzheimer’s and dementia already a prominent problem among seniors, every possible step must be taken to keep mental functioning as high as possible in nursing home residents.

Preventing Malnutrition

We know what needs to be done to prevent malnutrition–ensure seniors eat a healthy diet. But time and again caregivers fail to ensure proper nutrition, and the main reason is simple–they do not identify which residents need help at the outset.

A comprehensive study this year on the benefit of malnutrition screening from the National Institutes of Health showed that it is critical for seniors to be tested on different variables on a consistent basis to check for malnutrition. By measuring residents based on body-mass index, weight loss, and food intake, researchers were able to develop a clear tracking system to identify which seniors were already malnourished or at heightened risk of malnourishment. The test itself also verified the prevalence of the problem, with over 60% of nursing home test subjects chosen at random experiencing either malnutrition or heightened risk of malnutrition.

The scientists explained that this method of screening and tracking seniors must be adopted by elder caregivers to ensure that intervention steps were taken to prevent seniors from suffering long-term harm from nutrition problems.

Legal Accountability

It is never acceptable for a nursing home to allow a senior to become malnourished. If a senior loved one ever faces medical complications as a result of poor nutrition, then you may have a legal case to demand accountability from the long-term care facility. For help understanding your legal rights, feel free to contact Robert Rooth today at (847) 869-9100.