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Should I worry about nursing home malnutrition?

There is a lot to worry about when going into or placing a loved one into a nursing home, and malnutrition is one of them. According to a study by the Commonwealth Fund, about one-third of the nation's 1.6 million nursing home residents are malnourished or dehydrated. While many fail to consider these conditions serious, they can actually exacerbate already existing medical conditions, causing a rapid decline in an individual's health. In some instances, extreme malnutrition or dehydration can lead to death.

There may be many reasons for the permeation of this problem. First, many nursing homes find themselves understaffed, especially since the industry sees a turn-over rate of 93 percent for CNAs. Second, many of those who work in nursing homes are undertrained. Therefore, they are inadequately educated on how to make sure nursing home residents are getting enough to eat and drink. Third, due to understaffing, many nursing home residents fail to receive the individualized care they need. Many nursing home staff members must help 10 or more residents eat and drink during a specific period of time.

These reasons are wholly unacceptable. Those who own, administer, and work in nursing homes are tasked with keeping their residents safe and healthy. Failing to do this can cause significant physical, emotional, and financial harm to a resident and his or her family. Therefore, if you or a loved one is hurt by malnutrition or dehydration, you should consider consulting with an attorney.

You can help spot malnutrition by recognizing rapid weight loss and monitoring meals. The moment something seems amiss, it may be best to act on your legal rights, because qualified attorneys can do everything possible to help you ensure nursing home neglect is put to a stop and you or your loved one is treated properly.

Source: The Commonwealth Fund, "Malnutrition And Dehydration Plague Nursing Home Residents," accessed on Oct. 11, 2014

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