The Six Warning Signs, What They Mean
One of the least obvious warning signs of nursing home abuse but also one of the most dangerous is sudden or severe weight loss. Weight loss can be caused by a number of factors, including dehydration, life-threatening illness, and poor quality of food. Undocumented weight loss in any nursing home resident should raise strong suspicions about the quality of care your loved one is receiving.
The Dangers of Weight Loss, Dehydration and Malnutrition
As you’ve probably heard, our bodies are composed primarily of water. Water is in fact vital to life and to proper organ functioning. And a large portion of our variable body weight is from water retention. When the body begins losing more water than it takes in, dehydration occurs. Dehydration causes exhaustion throughout the body. More dangerously, dehydration causes a decrease in blood pressure and this, in turn, reduces the blood’s ability to deliver important nutrients to the body.
Weight can also be lost in nursing homes through a patient’s eating less. When we do not eat a regular, balanced diet, the body begins to draw nutrients from its stores of body tissues. At first the body will burn fat deposits for its needed energy, but when fat reserves fall low, the body then begins eating its own muscles, including those that beat the heart. But even by cannibalizing itself the body only gets enough energy to barely keep basic processes going. As the malnourished body degenerates, the chance of infection and illness increases.
Why Nursing Home Residents are Weight Loss Prone
As our bodies age, so do our senses. The deadening of the senses of taste and smell requires special attention on the part of nursing home staff to ensure facilitated care residents are receiving and finishing their meals. Unappetizing food can have similar results, as can medication.
Certain prescription drugs, both doctor-prescribed and staff-abused (restraints), can also diminish appetite. Oddly enough, not eating can also weaken appetite
in a vicious circle of starvation. No matter what the cause, no person under nursing home care should be denied the attention and concern necessary to make sure meals are edible, healthy, and eaten.
Take Heavy Action against Negligent Nursing Homes
All it takes is a single voice. Cases tried and won in the past ten years have helped bring the horrors of nursing home abuse and neglect to the public’s attention and have ensured that better care is provided to all of our mothers and fathers in facilitated care.
Lawyers for Change
Each nursing home investigated and brought to account for its actions sets into motion a series of events that positively impact the quality of nursing home care throughout America . If you suspect your loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, take action today by speaking with an experienced nursing home lawyer in your area.
Harold Rubin's article “Proper Nutrition and the Elderly” includes the dangers of malnutrition and a list of medications commonly prescribed to elderly patients that can decrease appetite.
This most recent version of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” (2005), an official report written every five years by the HHS and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), contains important diet information for all Americans, including special sections on sodium, body mass index (BMI) chart listing appropriate body weights for a person’s height, and food sources for the major nutrients a healthy body needs.
The Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect News is a service of the Consumer Justice Group.