Last week, we discussed the identification of bed sores as a sign of nursing home neglect. Bed sores are generally considered one of the most common symptoms of neglect in an elder care facility, in part because they are fairly obvious and easy to identify. But other signs of nursing home neglect may go unnoticed, and for that reason may be even more common.
Dehydration & Malnutrition In Philadelphia’s Elder Care Facilities
It’s important to note that the appearance of dehydration and malnutrition may be signs of conditions that a nursing home staff member cannot do anything about, like physical disabilities, dental problems, or dementia. Thus not all signs of dehydration and malnutrition indicate nursing home neglect in Philadelphia.
But if you recognize the signs in your own loved one, confront the nursing home’s management. They may provide a thoroughly logical explanation for the symptoms you’ve noticed, satisfying your concerns. Even so, it may be beneficial to contact an experienced nursing home neglect lawyer in Philadelphia to investigate the situation thoroughly. In some tragic instances, dehydration and malnutrition are the direct result of nursing home negligence. Often employees in an understaffed nursing home lack the resources to adequately monitor their patients’ eating and drinking habits. In rare cases, a nursing home employee may intentionally withhold nourishment.
Noticing Dehydration In A Philadelphia Nursing Home
Dehydration is an uncontrolled loss of body fluid. Much of our body weight is made up of water, and the American Medical Association defines dehydration in terms of weight, as rapid weight loss. Generally this weight loss must be substantial to be attributed to dehydration, at least 3% of a nursing home patient’s total body weight.
What Causes Dehydration?
For residents in a Philadelphia nursing home, there are three primary causes of dehydration:
- Pharmaceutical side effects
- Illness causing fluid loss
- Insufficient fluid intake
All of the causes listed above can be treated by an attentive nursing home staff in Philadelphia, and dehydration-related deaths should rarely occur. But while you may expect dehydration to be a limited problem in nursing homes, a recent study found that out of 40 nursing home patients tested, only one was hydrated properly. Is your elderly relative one of those 39 dehydrated nursing home residents?
Symptoms Of Dehydration
When you visit your loved one in a Philadelphia nursing home, ask yourself these questions:
- Do they complain of thirst when you visit?
- Have they lost their appetite?
- Is their skin, or mouth, dry?
- Are they flushed, red in the face?
- Are they uncharacteristically tired?
- Are they having chills?
- Have they reported, or have you witnessed, spells of dizziness?
- Do they vomit regularly?
- Do they have trouble breathing?
- Are they having unexplained seizures?
If you answer “yes” to several of these questions, you may be facing a case of dehydration. These symptoms are extremely serious, and must be treated immediately.
Risks Of Dehydration
Why is dehydration such a big problem? Dehydration in a Philadelphia nursing home can result in numerous severe medical conditions, many of which can turn fatal if left untreated. Medical problems linked to dehydration include:
- Increased susceptibility to infection
- Increase in the development of dementia
- Weak immune system
Obviously, dehydration presents a serious health risk to nursing home residents in Philadelphia. If you suspect that your elderly loved one is not receiving adequate hydration from their nursing home, contact our nursing home neglect attorneys today.
Identifying Malnutrition In A Philadelphia Elder Care Facility
Elderly nursing home residents in Philadelphia require a wide range of nutrients to remain healthy. In a caring, attentive nursing home, patients should receive the nutrition they need through specialized diets and supplements. When they do not, the result is malnutrition.
What Causes Nursing Home Malnutrition?
Malnutrition in a Philadelphia nursing home is often caused by neglect, when residents do not receive the attention they deserve. Common causes include:
- Improper serving sizes, which provide fewer nutrients than are required
- Appetite loss, which is common among residents in a nursing home, must be monitored closely by elder care professionals. If residents are not guided through a daily feeding regimen, they may stop eating altogether.
- Lack of assistance in feeding, mainly caused by nursing home understaffing
- Improper use of feeding tubes
Many elderly nursing home residents in Philadelphia lose the ability to feed themselves. In this situation, nursing homes employ feeding tubes to provide patients the appropriate nutrients. But according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, hundreds of American nursing homes are fined every year for inappropriately inserting feeding tubes.
Signs Of Malnutrition
Check for the following symptoms of malnutrition the next time you visit your elderly loved one in their Philadelphia nursing home:
- Bloated abdomen
- Weight loss
- Swollen / bleeding gums or tooth decay
- Muscle loss and weakness
- Memory loss
- Dry skin
Contact A Philadelphia Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer
Without proper nutrition and adequate hydration, an aging body is unable to adequately fight off infection, which can lead to life-threatening medical conditions. From recent research, the incidence of nursing home dehydration and malnutrition seems to be increasing. This is a serious epidemic that must be confronted. If you’ve noticed a change for the worse in your loved one, contact our nursing home neglect attorneys and begin reviewing your case in a free consultation.