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Malnutrition and Dehydration

Chicago Nursing Home Malnutrition and Dehydration Attorneys

Food is essential to survival. A well balanced diet is essential for the aging person. Malnutrition is not uncommon in elderly people because of poor teeth, the rising cost of food, and eating alone. Appetite can be further reduced by poor taste buds and dulled sense of smell. As a Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer, I have seen cases of malnutrition due to nursing home employee neglect. Many elderly nursing home residents are dependent upon nursing care employees for assistance with their meals. These residents may require manual feedings or assistance with feedings. A trained employee will feed and stay with the patient during meal times. Unfortunately, due to inadequate staffing many nursing home residents are left to eat alone.

Malnutrition is defined as any disease promoting condition resulting from either an inadequate or excessive exposure to nutrients. The elderly person requires fewer calories than the adult but needs the same amount of protein, minerals and vitamins.

 Common Causes of Mulnutrition

  • Inadequate caloric consumption
  • Inadequate intake of essential vitamins and minerals
  • Improper absorption and distribution of foods within the body


As a Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer with years of nursing home litigation experience, I know that dehydration is an avoidable and preventable condition. Dehydration by definition is the removal of water from a chemical or the clinical consequences of negative fluid balance. Losses of 10% or more of the body water are incapacitating to the human body. Deficits of water may occur because of inadequate water intake or excessive loss through lungs and skin due to prolonged high fevers. If food intake is reduced, electrolytes are also depleted.

Many illnesses are characterized by excessive losses of gastrointestinal fluids. They are vomiting, diarrhea, fistulas, and tube drainages. Losses can also occur from bowel obstruction, which is common in the elderly population. Losses from urine and sweat can also create electrolyte deficits. Dehydration is associated with thirst, orthostatic hypotension (dizziness upon standing or sitting), tachycardia or rapid heart rate, increased sodium levels, delirium, falls, hypothermia, medication toxicity, renal failure or death.

The elderly are at risk because of reduced thirst response, a decrease in total body fluids, and declining renal function. Nursing home residents are at a higher risk for dehydration than older adults living independently as they have limited access to oral fluids.

 Elderly Patients Should be Assessed for Dehydrartion

  • Decreased skin turgor or dry flaky skin
  • Decreased urine output and amber colored urine
  • Dry or sticky mucous membranes
  • Thirst
  • Rough dry tongue
  • Weight loss
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Mental disorientation
  • Coma

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If you or someone you love has sustained injuries or loss from nursing home neglect or abuse, contact Nemeroff Law Offices today. Our experienced Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers are available to speak with you directly.

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