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When is malnutrition neglect versus old age?

On Behalf of | Sep 29, 2021 | Elder Abuse |

Many elderly people are nearing the ends of their lives, and with that aging comes some signs and symptoms. Some may decide to stop eating or may no longer feel hungry. Others may have a hard time swallowing their food or feel full very quickly.

Malnutrition is sometimes natural and a result of an elder not eating enough on their own. Other times, it is a direct result of not being given the opportunity to eat or to eat the right things.

Malnutrition in nursing homes

Malnutrition in a nursing care environment is possible in a few situations. These might include:

  • If the patient refuses to eat
  • If the patient can no longer eat
  • If the patient isn’t taken to meals or doesn’t have meals brought to them
  • Medical issues preventing the patient from absorbing nutrients

All of these potential problems should be investigated if you see that your loved one appears to be losing weight quickly. If you determine that they are willing to eat, then you should look into medical conditions that may be influencing the absorption of nutrients or the possibility that the others involved in your loved one’s care are not making sure they’re getting enough to eat.

What should you do if your loved one appears to be malnourished?

If your elderly loved one is malnourished, then the first step is to make sure you talk to them about the issue. Ask if they are going to mealtimes or if their meals are being brought to them. You should also verify the dining schedule at the facility and reiterate that you expect meals to be brought to your loved one even if they don’t go to the dining hall.

It may be a good idea to have your loved one examined. If a medical provider agrees that they are malnourished, they may have alternative options to help, such as high-calorie drinks or shakes that are easier to eat and absorb.

If you find that the reason for your loved one’s malnourishment seems to be linked to a failure of the nursing home’s team to bring them food or take them to meals, then that’s when you should look into a nursing home abuse case.