Most elderly people have an assortment of physical disorders and illnesses. In a population already frail and ill, dehydration and malnutrition can be life-threatening. Yet a significant portion of the million-plus residents of US certified nursing homes tend to suffer from these conditions. In fact, various researchers have reported that hydration abnormalities are rampant among nursing home residents. There are many reasons for residents not eating enough, eating right, and taking in enough fluid, but appropriate monitoring by nursing home staff would identify the problems and allow them to be corrected before they adversely affect resident health and function. At Knapp & Roberts, a Phoenix nursing home neglect lawyer is an expert at handling claims for elderly negligence.
Malnutrition is the lack of sufficient nutrients needed to feed the natural physical processes of the body. Most people associate it with simply not getting enough to eat, but it can also be caused by diets that don’t have the proper balance of nutrients and the inability to absorb the nutrition which is ingested. Among nursing home residents, malnutrition can be the result of:
Inadequate nutrition both weakens people and interferes with their normal healing processes. Malnutrition puts nursing home residents at increased risk for many of the most common injuries and illnesses that afflict nursing homes:
Dehydration occurs when a person loses more water than they take in and is especially common in Phoenix and all over Arizona due to the extreme temperatures. It’s generally defined as mild when the victim has lost 2 percent or less of body weight, and as severe once body weight has dropped 4 percent or more.
Advanced age is one of the major risk factors for dehydration. Net loss of fluid may be caused by simply not taking in enough fluid for various reasons (including deliberate fluid reduction to avoid bladder control problems), but there are several other potential causes among nursing home residents:
Even mild dehydration can be a problem in some patients, for example those who already have heart or kidney problems. More severe dehydration can lead to or exacerbate existing conditions:
The facility and its staff need to be aware of the nature, causes, and effects of malnutrition and dehydration. They especially need to know which residents are most at risk and make extra efforts to ensure that these residents eat and drink adequately and are monitored for weight loss—all of which requires adequate numbers of staff, that the staff be adequately trained, and that the staff be competent and interested in doing their jobs. Failure in any of those areas can amount to neglect.
A Phoenix malnutrition attorney at the law firm of Knapp & Roberts has successfully handled many nursing home neglect cases, including claims for malnutrition and dehydration. We understand the important Arizona and federal laws protecting nursing home residents, and we are taken very seriously by the lawyers who defend the nursing homes. When the nursing homes try to avoid responsibility by deflecting blame onto the residents (they were uncooperative; they deceived the staff about their food and fluid intake), we know how to respond.
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