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Malnutrition and nursing home neglect

Nursing homes carry a great responsibility, as they are trusted with the safety and well-being of our elderly loved ones. Adequately treating elderly residents encompasses a lot of elements. Nursing home staff must provide sufficient supervision, properly administer medication, and be sure to contact medical professionals when an individual's medical condition deteriorates. Another aspect of nursing home care that is often overlooked is providing adequate nutrition. Sadly, all too often, nursing home professionals neglect to adequately feed their residents, which can lead to a whole host of problems.

Malnutrition can seriously damage a nursing home resident. A victim's immune system can weaken as a result of malnutrition, leaving him or her more susceptible to illness and infection. Also, those who are not well-nourished can have difficulty mending wounds. Therefore, any cut or broken bone may take longer to heal or may not heal at all. Muscle weakness, too, can develop, leading to more falls, fractures, and pain and suffering.

So what can individuals do to ensure their elderly loved ones are being properly nourished in their nursing homes? First, they should be observant. By spending time with an elderly loved one during meal times, an individual can see if an adequate amount of food is being given and if their elderly loved one is receiving help eating if he or she needs it. Family members should also be sure to watch for weight loss, difficulty with healing wounds, and easy bruising.

Those who suffer harm caused by malnutrition may have legal recourse. If the malnutrition that led to the harm was caused by nursing home negligence, then a personal injury lawsuit may be filed, which, if successful, could lead to the recovery of compensation. Additionally, it may shine a light on this often obscure problem, helping prevent other nursing home residents from being subjected to such a devastating yet preventable issue.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Senior health: How to prevent and detect malnutrition," accessed on Jan. 23, 2016

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