Due to factors like cognitive disorders and Parkinsonian tremors, seniors in nursing homes often rely on staff members to help them eat and drink. If nursing home staff choose not to provide a resident with the assistance he or she requires, the resident may begin to lose weight, become malnourished, grow weak, and possibly die from the debilitating effects of starvation or dehydration. This may required otherwise unnecessary trips to the hospital. Malnourishment and dehydration can also make a person more susceptible to illness and infection, which is extremely dangerous for elderly individuals.
If you think that your elderly parent or spouse is being starved at his or her nursing home, or isn’t receiving enough water and fluids, it is crucial to act swiftly. In addition to speaking with the nursing home nursing staff and, if necessary, notifying the ombudsman or state department of health, you should also contact an experienced nursing home injury attorney who handles claims and lawsuits involving dehydration and malnutrition of residents.
Nursing home neglect lawyer Brent Wieand is a fierce legal advocate for abused nursing home patients, and is ready to work diligently toward the goal of recovering the maximum compensation for your family. To set up a free legal consultation regarding your case, call our law offices right away.
What Are the Effects of Malnutrition on the Body?
Malnutrition can harm anyone, but is especially serious for elderly nursing home residents, many of whom already have compromised health or weakened immune systems. Malnutrition can rapidly become fatal for a frail senior citizen who is already struggling to manage or recover from an illness, injury, or infection.
The effects of malnutrition vary, depending on how long the malnourished state has persisted. The longer the victim is malnourished, the more severe, pronounced, and dangerous the effects will become. In the early stages, malnutrition can cause harmful yet generally reversible effects, such as fatigue and minor weight loss. However, as the condition progresses, the effects can escalate to a life-threatening level, potentially including:
- Dizziness and weakness, which increases the risk of losing consciousness and fainting. When a person falls due to fainting, they can strike their head and sustain a brain injury, break their neck and become paralyzed, sustain a pelvic fracture, or land on their face or hands, breaking their nose or wrists.
- Severe weight loss and muscle wasting, which is called cachexia. Cachexia increases the risk of pelvic fractures and bed sores (pressure ulcers), both of which are among the leading causes of wrongful death and personal injury in the elderly.
- Organ failure. For example, malnutrition and dehydration may cause kidney failure, heart failure, and/or liver failure, any of which can cause death.
What Are the Symptoms of Dehydration in the Elderly?
Though both are extremely harmful, dehydration is considered more dangerous than malnutrition because it begins to take effect more quickly. While a person needs food and water to survive, water is more essential to survival, and dehydration will almost immediately begin to cause noticeable, steadily worsening effects, which can include:
- Fall injuries from fainting
- Organ failure
- Respiratory distress and difficulty breathing
- Seizures Ê
- Wrongful death
Warning signs that an elderly person is dehydrated include:
- Chest pains
- Dark urine
- Dry, cracked, chapped lips
- Dry tongue, skin, and nose
- Low blood pressure
- Reduced urine output
In severe cases, dehydration is so complete that the victim requires emergency treatment with intravenous fluids. Without skilled and immediate intervention, dehydration can be fatal.
Nursing Home Dehydration and Malnourishment Lawyers for Neglect Victims
Malnutrition or dehydration of residents typically indicates that serious nursing home violations have occurred. If nursing home negligence leads to the malnutrition- or dehydration-related death, sickness, or injury of a resident, the nursing home may be liable, and may be required to compensate the victim. In wrongful death cases, compensation may be available for the decedent’s surviving family members. In some instances, it is possible to negotiate a settlement agreement before going to trial becomes necessary.
If your elderly loved one became malnourished or dehydrated after entering a nursing home anywhere in the United States, our skilled and compassionate nursing home neglect attorneys can fight aggressively to recover compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. Our law firm is proud to give a voice to the victims of nursing home abuse, and we make it our mission to send a clear message that the abuse and neglect of vulnerable seniors will be held accountable.
If your mother, father, or spouse suffered from dehydration or malnourishment in a nursing home, assisted living community, or other care facility for the elderly, turn to Brent Wieand for personalized legal help. For a free and confidential consultation regarding your nursing home abuse claim, call our law offices today.