Signs of Malnutrition and Neglect in Nursing Homes

Signs of Malnutrition and Neglect in Nursing Homes

Nursing home neglect occurs when the residents of that facility are not fully cared for. Different forms of neglect fall under four main categories. These include neglect of personal hygiene, medical negligence, emotional neglect, and neglect of basic needs. Some of the common signs of neglect in assisted living facilities include malnutrition, falls, dehydration, withdrawal behavior, poor personal hygiene, bedsores, and more. This article focuses on malnutrition as a sign of neglect in a nursing home.

What’s malnutrition?

According to WHO, malnutrition refers to imbalances, deficiencies, and excesses in a person’s intake of nutrients and/or energy. As the demographics change and the number of seniors in nursing homes increase, so does the cases of malnutrition in these facilities. Thus, you must pay attention to various malnutrition signs if you have a loved one in an assisted living facility.

Malnutrition isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Beyond insufficient nutrients, the term malnutrition extends to other aspects of life, including mental, physical, and socioeconomic aspects.

Physical malnutrition

Some signs of malnutrition are attributed to physical health concerns that prevent a patient from eating properly. Some of the health issues that might lead to malnutrition include chronic illness, diminished sense of smell, dental problems, recent hospitalizations, digestive challenges, and medications that affect the level of nutrient absorption.

One of the common health concerns that lead to malnutrition is dental problems. For example, cavities and teeth loss can make eating a simple mean challenging for the patient. Also, dietary restrictions such as limiting the amount of sugar or salt can impact the patient’s appetite and ability to eat enough food.

Socioeconomic malnutrition

Malnutrition in nursing homes extends beyond the quality and quantity of meals served. Socioeconomic malnutrition is linked to various issues like social isolation, income, and general loss of interest in normal activities like cooking and eating. Unfortunately, older adults must choose between spending their financial resources on purchasing a new home, buying essentials like food, or spending their money on medication.

Different forms of socioeconomic malnutrition can occur in different forms. For instance, there’s a higher possibility an older person won’t get a visitor during meals. This isolation might result in further isolation. In the worst-case scenario, the patient might start avoiding friends, other residents in the nursing home, and family members.

Mental malnutrition

Issues related to mental malnutrition stem from various mental health problems such as dementia and depression. The latter is a mental health concern that can cause malnutrition, particularly if the patient doesn’t get sufficient social support, medication, and proper nutrition.

What are the common signs of malnutrition?

The most common signs of malnutrition include;

  • Difficulty in communicating one’s feelings and thoughts
  • White fingernails
  • Glassy eyes
  • Thrush or canker sores
  • Fatigue
  • Heavy wrinkles
  • Yellowish skin

It is important to be aware of the common signs of malnutrition. After all, discovering that your loved one in a nursing home facility isn’t getting a sufficient diet can help get the issue addressed and prevent the damaging impact of prolonged malnutrition. The easiest and effective way to find out if your loved one is getting the right meals is to spend some time with them. By sharing a meal with them, you have the opportunity to observe their eating habits.

One of the ways to help root out malnutrition in nursing home residents is to find these issues to the right authorities. By staying proactive, you can minimize the risk that a loved will suffer from malnutrition will in a nursing home.