Malnutrition and Dehydration in New Mexico Nursing Homes

elderly man drinking waterUnder federal law, nursing homes are required to provide their residents a well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional requirements. This includes ensuring proper hydration. Malnutrition and dehydration put residents at risk for severe health issues, including muscle weakness, kidney failure, slower healing, urinary tract infections, weight loss and a higher risk of pressure sores.

Despite the serious consequences that can result from failing to meet residents’ nutritional needs, it happens far too often. Facilities are often understaffed, making it harder to meet every residents’ needs.

Staff members are often underqualified, or they fail to properly evaluate patients to determine what they need to eat and the amount of fluids they need to consume. For example, some residents struggle to swallow because of cognitive injuries like dementia or Parkinson’s disease. Depression can cause residents to lose their appetite. Some medications cause diarrhea or vomiting, so the residents who take these medications likely need more water to compensate.

Below, PKSD New Mexico’s experienced New Mexico nursing home abuse lawyers discuss malnutrition and dehydration in nursing homes, common signs and what loved ones should do when residents exhibit these signs.

Call today to discuss legal options for your elderly loved one. No upfront costs. Call us at: 505-677-7777 .

What is Malnutrition?

People who are malnourished have not received the nutrients needed to maintain their physical health and well-being. This can be caused by not getting enough food, eating low-quality meals or a medical issue that prevents the body from properly absorbing nutrients.

Certain medications often taken by nursing home residents can make it more difficult for them to stay nourished. This includes medications for digestive issues or medicines that may cause diarrhea or nausea.

Residents with dental issues or improperly fitted dentures often struggle to eat, making it harder for them to get the nutrition their bodies need. Sometimes dietary restrictions affect appetite, as some residents cannot have a lot of salt. This makes food less appetizing, causing residents to eat less.

What is Dehydration?

Dehydration happens when residents do not consume enough fluids, causing a dangerous imbalance in their electrolyte levels. You lose fluids when you breathe, sweat or use the bathroom and you need to replace these fluids to ensure your body can perform vital functions.

There are numerous factors that contribute to an increased risk of dehydration among nursing home residents, including:

  • Reduced sense of thirst among the elderly
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney problems
  • Medicines that increase the loss of fluid

These are all reasons why staffers need to pay extra attention to residents’ hydration levels and watch for signs of dehydration. They may need to create detailed schedules to ensure residents get water at regular times, such as between meals. Water should also be easily accessible for residents.

How Nursing Home Negligence Could Cause Dehydration or Malnourishment

There are several forms of neglect that may result in dehydration or malnourishment of nursing home residents:

  • Failure to regularly offer fluids
  • Failing to adequately monitor fluid intake, especially for residents at higher risk of dehydration
  • Understaffing of a nursing home, which makes it much harder to monitor and meet the needs of residents
  • Serving unappetizing food or unbalanced meals
  • Failure to help residents who need assistance to safely eat
  • Serving food that does not meet residents’ dietary restrictions
  • Failing to take steps to help residents who exhibit signs they are dehydrated or malnourished
  • Failing to take an accurate medical history for residents, which prevents staff from noting dietary restrictions and medications that make dehydration or malnourishment more likely

What Are the Common Signs Someone is Dehydrated or Malnourished?

These are some of the common signs of dehydration or malnourishment among nursing home residents. If you notice any of these symptoms in your loved one, seek medical attention immediately and investigate the treatment of your loved one. If you suspect neglect, contact PKSD New Mexico to discuss potential legal options:

  • Dry mouth and lips
  • Decreased urination
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Darker-colored urine
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Pneumonia
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pressure sores
  • Significant weight loss
  • Dry mouth and cracked lips
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry skin
  • Disorientation
  • Frequent infections or slow wound healing
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Constipation
  • Digestive issues

What To Do if You Notice These Signs in Your Loved One?

If you observe signs of dehydration in your elderly loved one, you need to act quickly. Your first priority is to get them food and water. Encourage them to take small sips of water or drinks with electrolytes. Avoid providing caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, as these can make things worse. It may be easier to get your loved one to consume fluids they enjoy, like flavored water or fruit juice.

If your loved one is malnourished, they need nutrient-dense and protein-rich foods. Have them eat a lot of small meals so eating does not become overwhelming. If your loved one has trouble chewing, you can provide pureed foods that are easier to consume.

Monitor your loved one’s fluid intake closely and make sure they are drinking enough throughout the day. Additionally, provide water-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and soups to help increase hydration.

If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention immediately. Dehydration can lead to serious health complications, especially in the elderly.

Your next step is to determine how your loved one became malnourished or dehydrated. If you notice signs of neglect, it may be time to consult an experienced attorney.

Has Your Loved One Suffered Neglect? Contact PKSD New Mexico

Was your loved one injured because he or she did not receive enough water or nutrition?

PKSD New Mexico helps families pursue and secure justice for abuse or neglect at nursing homes. We have the extensive resources, experience and legal knowledge needed to build a strong case for compensation.

Call us to learn if you may have a case and the benefits of hiring our firm to represent you during this difficult time.

Zero upfront costs or legal obligations. Call to set up a free legal consultation. Phone: 505-677-7777 .

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