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What is malnutrition and how can I spot it?

There often comes a time when many Floridians have to make the difficult decision of whether or not to admit their elderly loved one into a nursing home. Though many assisted living facilities take great care of their residents, ensuring their health and safety, others do not. These negligent institutions may subject your loved one to abuse, neglect and malnutrition. Therefore, knowing how to spot the signs of malnutrition is crucially important.

Malnutrition occurs when an individual's body does not acquire the nutrition it needs to operate properly. Protein, minerals, vitamins, fats and carbohydrates all work to not only give an individual energy, but also to help repair damaged tissue and ensure proper coordination of body processes. Thus, when an individual becomes malnourished, the person may be susceptible to illness, injury and death.

Unfortunately, malnutrition is an all too common occurrence. More than 3.5 million adults are estimated to be suffering from a lack of proper nutrition. Though not all of these instances occur in a nursing home setting, there are likely enough to cause concern. But how can you spot signs of malnutrition?

There are many visible signs of malnutrition. Rapid weight loss, fatigue, weakness, memory depreciation, a weakened immunity and depression can all be signs that your elderly loved one is not getting enough food. One way to ensure that your loved one is receiving enough food is to simply visit the person during meal time. By showing up unannounced, you will obtain a clear picture of how well-fed your loved one is in the person's nursing home.

Nursing home neglect often manifests itself in the form of malnutrition. Therefore, it is important that you keep an eye out for the signs of malnutrition and contact the appropriate parties if you suspect malnutrition or neglect is occurring. Hopefully, then your loved one can get the adequate care he or the person deserves.

Source: FamilyDoctor.org, "Preventing Malnutrition," accessed on Jan. 8, 2015

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