Do you know what malnutrition looks like?

As people begin to age, their appetites may change. For the elderly, this can mean not feeling hungry despite needing to eat or not enjoying the foods that they once did due to changes in taste.

In a nursing home, it is the nursing staff’s responsibility to make sure that all residents eat regularly and are getting the nutrients that they need. If they fail to make sure this happens, then residents could become ill.

Malnutrition can be a problem in nursing homes

Malnutrition is a serious health problem that has to be addressed as soon as possible. With malnutrition, a person’s body is not getting enough of the calories or nutrients that it needs to work correctly. Symptoms of malnutrition will vary initially but eventually include issues such as:

  • A significant loss of weight
  • Poor immune system functionality
  • Trouble healing
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

These and other symptoms may occur slowly over time as the malnutrition worsens.

Malnutrition isn’t caused by a single factor

Not eating is not the only cause of malnutrition that staff members are supposed to look out for. Other issues, like not getting enough of a certain vitamin or nutrient, can be problematic even when eating regularly. Someone with a chronic illness or who takes medications may also have a condition that changes how the body absorbs nutrients.

In a nursing home neglect scenario, malnutrition becomes a problem when it is not being addressed. While it might be common for an elderly person to refuse meals or to develop a deficiency from medications, what isn’t common is for the nursing home to allow those problems to persist.

If the staff notices that your loved one isn’t eating regularly or has a sunken or unusual appearance combined with weight loss, fatigue or other symptoms, then there should be steps taken to identify the cause and to address it. Failing to do this is neglectful and may be an issue that you want to discuss with the nursing home itself as well as with your attorney. Your loved one may need emergency medical care, which can be arranged as soon as a problem is identified.