Malnutrition and dehydration in nursing homes

Nursing homes both in New York and across the nation are in a shocking state, providing often poor care to the elderly residents. As many as 85 percent of nursing home residents suffer from malnutrition or dehydration.

The problems in nursing homes can be attributed to several things. First, many of the staff are inadequately trained. There is a very high turnover rate, leading to inconsistency of care. The staff to patient ratios are often far too high. According to some reports, in some nursing homes, 30 to 50 percent of the residents are underweight. Other conditions, such as depression, can also lead to weight loss and a loss of desire to eat, compounding the problem.

Often, a single nurse's aide will be responsible for making certain as many as seven to nine residents get enough to eat and drink during the day and look over as many as 12 to 15 residents in the evening. The ideal ratio is one certified nurse's aide to every two to three residents requiring assistance with eating. Malnourishment and dehydration lead to many other problems, including decayed teeth, an increased likelihood of breaking bones, anemia, low blood pressure and early death.

Elderly residents in nursing homes should be able to expect adequate care to provide for their needs. However, it is possible for nursing home staff to neglect their residents, whether accidentally or even intentionally. People whose elderly loved ones are suffering from neglect or abuse may wish to consult with an elder law attorney who may be able to assist them in obtaining compensation for their pain and suffering.

Source: The Commonwealth Fund, "Malnutrition And Dehydration Plague Nursing Home Residents", November 25, 2014

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