When you leave a loved one in a nursing home or an assisted living facility, you should be able to trust that the staff will take care of them. This includes assuming that staff will provide and track basic care such as fluid and nutrient intake. If these needs are not met, contact a nursing home neglect lawyer at Needham Kepner & Fish LLP about your situation.
Causes of Malnutrition and Dehydration in the Elderly
Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluid than it brings in. When this process occurs, your body may not have enough water to carry on its normal everyday functions. Malnutrition occurs when the body does not receive or absorb the nutrients it needs.
Senior citizens are more susceptible to suffer from dehydration and malnutrition than younger adults. This is due to factors that include:
- A decrease in the body’s ability to conserve water;
- Mobility issues that make it difficult to obtain food and water without assistance;
- Medications that cause dehydration and loss of appetite as side effects;
- Difficulty swallowing water and food;
- Health concerns that require a restricted diet; and
- Illness or medical issues that cause vomiting, diarrhea or increased urination.
Individuals suffering from any of these difficulties require ongoing assistance to ensure adequate hydration and nutrition. Nursing home or assisted living staff should be trained to handle these circumstances. When these basic necessities are neglected, serious health problems or even death could occur.
Symptoms of Malnutrition and Dehydration in Elderly Adults
Unlike the signs of physical abuse, it is difficult to catch early signs of dehydration and malnutrition in elderly adults.
According to the Mayo Clinic, look for symptoms including:
- Increased hunger or thirst;
- Weight loss;
- Infrequent urination; or
- Irregular bowel movements.
If you notice one or more of these symptoms, your loved one could be suffering from dehydration or malnutrition. Seek medical attention right away if the symptoms persist. Then, we recommend speaking with a nursing home neglect attorney about your situation.
Effects of Dehydration in the Elderly
Dehydration can cause serious health problems, including:
- Kidney and urinary problems;
- Blood clots;
- Hypovolemic shock; and
- In extreme cases, dehydration can even cause death.
Effects of Malnutrition in Elderly
Similar to the effects of dehydration, malnutrition can cause serious health concerns. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), malnutrition can lead to:
- A poor immune system. A poor immune system can in turn make it difficult to fight off illnesses and heal infections and wounds.
- Muscle and bone weakness. Muscle and bone weakness then leaves the body susceptible to falls, fractures and breaks.
- Poor organ health. Malnutrition can lead to poor eye health, kidney health and memory loss.
How to Prove Nursing Home Neglect
Proving nursing home neglect will depend on the specific circumstances of your situation. However, a few important factors to consider include proving that the nursing home or assisted living facility had a duty to provide basic care to your loved one and proving that they neglected to provide that basic care.
Evidence of Nursing Home Neglect
A medical professional can determine whether your loved one is suffering from dehydration or malnutrition. A trail of medical records that describe your loved one’s symptoms and diagnosis can be vital to a nursing home neglect case.
It is also necessary to prove that the nursing home or assisted living facility has a duty to provide basic care to your loved one. This could include a contract or an obligation by law.
It is important to note that these are just a couple of factors to consider when pursuing a nursing home neglect claim. A nursing home neglect lawyer can help you understand whether you have a viable claim to recover damages. If you do have a viable claim, an attorney can help determine the best strategy for your case.
Speak With a Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer Today
If you believe you or a loved one are suffering from nursing home neglect and/or abuse, please contact the elder neglect lawyers at Needham Kepner & Fish LLP. Our lawyers can help you understand your rights under California elder neglect and abuse laws and the best legal options for your situation. Call us today at (408) 956-6949 for a free consultation to discuss your situation.