Malnutrition in Ohio Nursing Homes

Malnutrition in Ohio nursing homesNutritional well-being is an important part of the healthy aging process, and the central, core issue in the health of Ohio nursing home patients. Unfortunately, malnutrition and other dietary problems in Ohio nursing home patients is a painful reality. According to a recent study by the Commonwealth Fund, 35% to 85% of nursing home patients suffer from undernourishment. This is an epidemic, with statistics that make America look worse than a third-world country.Malnutrition in nursing home patients can lead to frailty, organ failure, and even death.

And the real tragedy is that malnutrition in nursing home patients is completely avoidable. All that is required is an appropriate evaluation, plan, and food and fluid delivery. But, tragically, many nursing homes do not follow simple procedures.

Malnutrition or any improper nutrition is a problem in and of itself. It can also lead to other problems, including infections, confusion, and muscle weakness resulting in immobility and falls, pressure ulcers, pneumonia, and decreased immunity to bacteria and viruses. Malnutrition is costly, it lowers the quality of nursing home residents’ lives, and is often avoidable by simple evaluations and basic care.

Any new nursing home patient must be evaluated for dietary and nutritional needs by the physician. Based on the nutritional assessment, the facility must take steps to ensure that the resident maintains good nutritional health and must provide residents with well-balanced, palatable meals. Any deviation from this plan can be considered to be nursing home abuse.

There are many factors, besides lack of attention, that can cause nursing home malnutririon—other causes and conditions that may keep your loved one from receiving adequate amounts of the vitamins, minerals, protein, and calories the resident needs. These can include illness; adverse drug effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cognitive disturbances, or sleepiness; Food and drug interactions which decrease the ability of the body to absorb vitamins and minerals; depression; swallowing disorders; mouth problems like tooth loss, ill-fitting dentures, mouth sores, and mouth pain; and tremors, which affect a patient’s ability to feed himself or herself.

But there are other, non-medical causes of malnutrition in nursing home patients which are simply the result of the staff not paying the proper attention to the situation.These can include inadequate attention from staff for residents who need assistance eating; staff who are uneducated about malnutrition and proper ways to feed residents who need help; reliance on liquid supplements; and improper delivery of special dietary needs.

When you visit your loved one, you need to be on the lookout for signs of malnutrition. These signs include loose clothing; cracks around the mouth; pale lips and mouth; complaints about dentures that no longer fit; rapid hair loss; wounds taking longer than normal to heal; confusion (not related to Alzheimer’s); skin appearing to be breaking down; sunken eyes; and obvious weight loss.

If your loved one suffers from two or more of these symptoms, you may need to take a closer look at his or her nutrition. You will need answers to some, or all, of the following questions:

Does it take a long time for the patient to eat?

Can the patient feed him/herself?

Is the patient rushed through meals?

Is the patient unable to finish meals?

If the patient has a special diet, is it being properly administered?

Does the patient seem to eat more when someone is there to help with the meal?

Does the patient seem uninterested in food, or recently lost his or her appetite?

Does the meal schedule fit the likes and dislikes of the patient?

Does the patient like the food at the facility?

Can the patient choose from a menu?

Are snacks readily available?

Has the patient started taking any new medications?

Has the family been informed about any new or sudden weight loss?

Is the patient’s weight routinely monitored?

Malnutrition is insidious. It can creep up on a nursing home patient and kill or cripple before anyone knows what is happening. If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from malnutrition, for any reason, please contact us by calling 1-800-297-9191 for a FREE consultation with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney or send us a Blog Message to schedule a time to talk.

Learn more about all types of Ohio nursing home abuse at

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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