Risk Factors for Dehydration and Malnutrition in Nursing Homes

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on September 10, 2019 in Nursing Home Abuse
Updated on February 24, 2022

nursing home foodMalnutrition and dehydration are serious threats in nursing home facilities that can result in infections, muscle weakness and confusion. Below, we discuss the dangerous side effects of dehydration and malnutrition and what signs to look out for.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from dehydration and malnutrition in his or her nursing facility, the Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorneys are available to discuss your situation during a free consultation.

Side Effects of Dehydration and Malnutrition

Dehydration refers to an inadequate supply of water while malnutrition refers to an inadequate supply of nutrient-enriched foods. Malnutrition can cause the following side effects:

  • Pale skin, lips or mouth
  • Dull eyes
  • Swollen lips or gums
  • Dry tongue
  • Cracks around the mouth
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Poor elasticity of the skin
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Thinning hair
  • Wounds that take longer to heal

Side effects of dehydration include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sticky saliva
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Hot or unusually dry skin
  • A weak, rapid pulse
  • Recurring infections
  • Lightheadedness
  • Eyes that do not tear up
  • Extreme thirst
  • Urine that is dark yellow or brown
  • Reduced urine output
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Severe vomiting
  • Fevers
  • Diarrhea

When patients are dehydrated, they may eventually suffer serious health effects, such as stroke, heart attack or organ failure.

How to Identify Dehydration or Malnutrition in a Resident

Loved ones must constantly monitor the wellbeing of relatives and friends in nursing homes. They may be able to tell that a loved one is malnourished or dehydrated by the following signs:

  • Physical signs – There are clear, physical signs that you can look out for, such as if your loved one is losing weight, his or her hair is thinning or his or her lips may be cracked.
  • Communication signs – Your loved one may have difficulty speaking because of dry mouth. He or she may frequently request food or water when you visit.
  • Behavioral signs – Your loved one may express fear, confusion or be disoriented.

Causes of Malnutrition and Dehydration in Nursing Homes

Malnutrition and dehydration occur when residents do not get enough food or water, resulting in a deficiency of minerals, vitamins, protein or other necessary elements required to maintain strength and health.

Sometimes malnutrition and dehydration are caused by an underlying illness. For example, a patient may suffer from vomiting or diarrhea that causes him or her to expel fluids from the body. Other times, medication or drug interactions may make a nursing home resident nauseous or not have an appetite. Mental health issues like depression can also lead to these problems.

However, some cases of dehydration and malnutrition result from the negligence of nursing home staff.

Liability of Nursing Home Staff

Nursing homes and staff may be held liable for a resident’s dehydration and malnutrition when any of the following occur:

  • Understaffing that results in patients not receiving proper care
  • Lack of access to fresh air, exercise or stimulation
  • Inadequate training of staff on causes of malnutrition and dehydration, proper positioning and how to help residents with eating or drinking problems
  • Dismissing dietary restrictions of residents
  • Lack of access to clean water
  • Intentionally withholding food or water from patients

Contact a Licensed Attorney Today

If you believe that your loved one has suffered dehydration or malnutrition in his or her nursing home facility, it is important to speak to an experienced nursing home abuse attorney. Our legal team is experienced in handling these matters and taking legal action to protect nursing home residents.

We work on a contingency fee basis, so you pay nothing upfront and only pay for our services if we successfully help you recover compensation.

Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

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