Malnutrition and Dehydration


Maintaining appropriate nutritional and hydrational status is important in the nursing home setting. Residents who do not receive adequate nutrition and hydration in their diets are more at risk for the development of pressure injuries, infection, muscle weakness leading to immobility and falls and poor nutrition and hydration make it more difficult for existing pressure injuries and infections to heal.

The elderly have less water content in their bodies than younger adults and a decreased thirst response which, among other factors, puts them at risk for dehydration. Increasing fluid intake in the elderly is important and relatively simple. The nursing home should monitor the resident's fluid intake and ensure that the resident drinks at least six cups of fluid each day. Fruit juices, popsicles and gelatin are excellent sources of fluid which help residents maintain appropriate hydration.

There are a variety of factors which can lead to malnutrition. Depression, an increasing problem among the elderly, is a potential cause of malnutrition because individuals suffering from depression have a tendency to eat less and in turn do not receive appropriate vitamins and minerals to prevent malnutrition. Other causes of malnutrition include difficulty swallowing and adverse drug effects such as vomiting and diarrhea. Nursing homes often fail to take steps to prevent malnutrition by not monitoring resident food intake and output, not providing a comfortable environment to promote eating and not providing food that is appetizing.

How Can I Recognize Malnutrition Or Dehydration In My Family Member?

Sometimes changes can be subtle and if you visit your loved one every day, you may not notice gradual changes. In addition to periodically doing a thorough examination of your loved one for bruises and wounds, you should check them for signs of dehydration and malnutrition.

Common Signs of Dehydration 

  • Thirst
  • Darker and more concentrated urine
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased urine output
  • Light headedness/dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting

Common Signs of Malnutrition

  • Significant weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Light headedness/dizziness

If you believe that a loved one may be the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse you should take action quickly and contact us online or call us at 877-460-0248 to set up a free consultation.

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