It is estimated that at least one-third of the nation’s 1.6 million nursing home residents suffer from malnutrition or dehydration. One study estimated that the number may be as high as 85 percent. This is comparable to malnutrition rates in third-world countries!
Malnutrition and dehydration can aggravate already existing medical problems or cause more severe problems such as tooth decay, broken bones, anemia and low blood pressure. In some cases, these conditions can lead to death.
Signs of dehydration and malnutrition include:
• Obvious weight loss, loose fitting clothes
• Loose fitting dentures
• Cracks around the mouth
• Pale lips or mouth
• Thinning hair
• Skin breakdown
• Sunken eyes
• Wounds that take a long time to heal
• Confusionnursing homes meet the nutritional needs of their residents. While nursing homes may have food available, they may not be providing the necessary assistance that the resident needs in order to eat. A nursing home may cause or contribute to malnutrition or dehydration in several ways: