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Nursing home neglect: Is your loved one malnourished?

| Apr 26, 2020 | Nursing Home Neglect |

When you visited various New Mexico nursing homes in search of a new residence for your aging parent, you may have had a list of priority issues in mind. For instance, perhaps your loved one has a physical or mental health condition that requires specialized care. Maybe your mother or father is in relatively good health but wanted to find a facility that provides a lot of social activities.

Finding a nursing home that’s a good fit for your family member’s particular needs and ultimate assisted-living goals can be challenging. Two of the biggest concerns most families have are safety and nutrition. Knowing that you won’t be able to be there around the clock and in person with your parent every day, you’ll have to depend on staff members to take care of his or her needs.

Issues that are cause for concern

If you talk to your mother or father on the phone or stop by the nursing home for a visit, and he or she is complaining about the food, it doesn’t necessarily mean staff members are neglecting his or her care. The following list, however, includes issues that are often signs of malnutrition, and witnessing one or more of these symptoms in addition to your loved one’s complaints is definitely cause for concern:

  • Have you noticed that your loved one has had a bruise or other wound that was slow to heal? If a person is not receiving proper food nourishment, this can be a side effect.
  • Malnutrition can result in mental confusion or other cognitive impairment.
  • Your loved one may develop vision problems due to a lack of vitamin A in his or her diet.
  • A severe vitamin C deficiency, often induced by lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in a diet, can result in a rare medical condition called Scurvy.
  • If your loved one’s abdomen looks distended (swollen or puffed out), it may be a symptom of malnourishment.
  • Irritability often occurs in undernourished people.
  • If your parent complains of feeling cold all the time, it may be a symptom of malnutrition, especially if he or she is experiencing one or more of the other issues mentioned in this list as well.
  • Depression and, oddly, a lack of interest in food or drink are also signs that a person is not receiving adequate dietary nourishment.

Undernourishment is only one type of malnutrition. A person can be overweight and still be suffering from nutrition neglect. Your loved one’s care providers have the task of making sure each patient is receiving a well-balanced diet on a daily basis to help maintain as high quality a level of physical and mental health as possible.

What to do if you suspect a problem

Malnutrition can lead to serious health problems. As it progresses, it may even result in breathing difficulties or heart problems. If you believe your loved one is not receiving proper nutrition care, it’s always best to trust your instincts and further investigate the matter. It’s better to ask questions and learn that everything is okay than to disregard your suspicions and later learn they were correct.

Many New Mexico nursing home patients or loved ones acting on behalf of a patient have sought justice in court when workers’ or nursing home administrators’ negligence have caused malnutrition-related injuries.

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