Understanding Malnutritional and the Signs that Can Help you Identify When a Loved One Might Be Suffering From it

Aside from the abuse, neglect, mistreatment, etc. you have to worry about that goes on within nursing homes, you must also remember that malnutrition is yet another serious issue that continues to affect many aging individuals living in these facilities. Malnutrition occurs when “a person does not get enough nutrients—including proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals” [Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine]. Some of the causes of malnutrition include:

  • A lack of nutrients in your diet. “Even the lack of one vitamin can lead to malnutrition.”
  • An unbalanced diet.
  • Certain health issues, such as diseases and disorders.

[Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine].

Some other causes of malnutrition include:

  • Depression
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Functional impairment
  • Difficulty with swallowing
  • Neglect

[Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health].

When a resident suffers from malnutrition, immediate intervention must be taken by nursing home staff so that the issue is addressed and handled. In the event the issue is left unaddressed, there is the potential for mortality as this is “a major consequence of malnutrition.” Aside from mortality, malnutrition can also contribute to a “progressive decline in health, reduced physical and cognitive functional status, increased utilization of health care services, and premature institutionalization,” says the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

Unfortunately, there are many cases of malnutrition that arise on account of a nursing home staff member failing to supervise those they are required to care for to ensure that they are getting in enough food and fluid. We often refer to this as neglect. The Chicago, IL nursing home abuse attorneys at Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. can assist you with this type of issue and many others if you are seeking legal help.

Another reason why cases of malnutrition go unaddressed is because there is “a common assumption that nutritional deficiencies are an inevitable consequence of aging and disease and that intervention for these deficiencies are only minimally effective.” This assumption might lead caregivers into believing that no matter what they do, it won’t help the resident. This often results in staff members not providing any type of intervention at all. And as we mentioned above, without anyone taking the essential steps to correct the issue, an aging individual’s life could be put at risk.

How can I be sure my loved one is being fed a nutritious diet regularly?

To be sure your loved one is receiving the proper care including being fed a well-balanced and nutritious diet, we encourage you to visit them regularly. When the staff at these facilities know someone is constantly coming in to check on them and inquire on how they are doing, there is a greater chance they will receive the quality care they deserve. However, just because you visit often doesn’t mean your loved one is in the clear from being abused or neglected. Residents in nursing homes who are visited by friends and/or family still fall victim to poorly trained staff or those who simply have too much on their plate and cannot keep up with the workload they have been given.

So, what can you do to be sure your loved one doesn’t become malnourished or identify when they have?

Aside from visiting them, we also encourage you to keep an eye out for any of the signs we have listed below that might indicate they are malnourished.

  • They may begin to show signs of fatigue. When an individual doesn’t get in enough nutrients, their body may not be able to keep up and may begin to tire out.
  • They may get dizzy. Certain nutrients keep us balanced and a lack of these nutrients could lead to a person becoming unstable. And the last thing anyone wants is for their aging relative to become unstable as a fall could be detrimental to him or her.
  • They may begin to show signs of weight loss. Weight loss is definitely one sign you need to keep an eye out for as an individual will likely lose weight if they aren’t being fed properly.

If you suspect that a loved one of yours is not being fed a well-balanced diet or that their medical conditions are interfering with their eating, you will want to bring this to the attention of the staff at the facility if they haven’t begun to notice it already. If you find your concerns are not being handled in the manner you would expect, you may need to contact one of our Chicago, IL nursing home abuse lawyers who can then intervene.


You can contact Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. at:

221 North La Salle Drive, Suite 1100

Chicago, IL 60601

Phone: 1-312-384-1920

Website: www.dinizululawgroup.com

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