People with advanced-stage Alzheimer’s disease often can’t take care of even the most basic self-maintenance. For those that need assistance in their feedings, choking risks plus the loss of cognitive function might mean that a patient needs meticulous personalized care. For nursing homes that remain understaffed, this can quickly lead to malnutrition and dehydration in a patient.
How malnutrition affects the body
Dehydration is usually easier to gauge since urine color and urination frequency can show a caregiver more easily whether their relative needs more water intake. When it comes to underfeeding, the warning signs can include:
- Body temperature: The body uses food to keep warm and thermoregulate. If you notice that your relative is shivering, pale or clammy, this might not be from an infection but malnutrition.
- Bodyweight and strength: If your relative is in a noticeably weaker state, where regular physical movements become labored, this could be the result of continuous malnutrition. Sudden weight loss or loss of muscle mass can also be a sign that a person’s body is desperately seeking nutrition.
- Cognitive impairment: This is a tricky symptom since many Alzheimer’s patients will already be exhibiting a certain degree of cognitive impairment, but if you know the baseline of your relative’s abilities, this could be a good comparison for any state of decline.
- Extended recovery: If wounds or bruises take particularly long to heal, this could be a sign of malnutrition.
Protecting the helpless
In Florida, recent legislation may lead to decreased recognition of problem areas of nursing homes. Due to this lack of oversight, documentation is an incredibly important part of determining whether staff are negligent with your relative’s care. Photos, notes, written communication with staff, emails with other relatives can show that you maintained a record of a patient’s condition and can show a distinct change. If you feel your loved one is being neglected by their nursing staff, you’ll need a lawyer with in-depth knowledge of elder law and nursing home neglect cases.