Malnutrition and Dehydration

According to recent studies, as many as 8 out of every 10 nursing home residents may suffer from dehydration or malnutrition.

This is a form on elderly abuse. When we don’t get enough nutrients or hydration, our bodies begin to shut down. Nursing facilities are required to make sure residents are properly fed and hydrated.


Malnutrition is an imbalance of nutrients in the body caused by excess intake of nutrients or a nutritional deficit. Each resident in a nursing home has different dietary needs and abilities. Some can’t chew very well or have a hard time swallowing. It’s the job of the nursing home to make sure residents have food that they are able to eat depending on their needs. Oftentimes nursing staff will leave food in a residents room without making sure they are eating it. Sometimes they will also give them food they can’t eat – like solid food if they have problems swallowing. Some nursing home residents have a loss of appetite, cognitive disorders, or take medicine that affects their appetite. It’s the job of the nursing home to notice any changes and make adjustments to the resident’s diet.

Signs of malnutrition include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Lack of interest in food and drink
  • Feeling more tired or weaker than usual
  • Swelling or fluid accumulation
  • Rapid weight loss


Dehydration is when residents lose too much water and other fluids the body needs to function properly. In nursing homes it is often the result of increased fluid loss from illness, drinking less fluids, or issues with medications. Cognitive issues like dementia or Alzheimer’s can also increase a resident’s risk of dehydration. Nursing home staff is supposed to monitor residents’ water intake and any signs of dehydration. At the first sign of dehydration, residents should be given fluids via an IV or increased water intake.

Signs of dehydration include:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Not urinating frequently
  • Dark colored urine
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Confusion

Malnutrition and Dehydration Can Lead to Serious Health Disorders and Injuries

Malnutrition in nursing home residents can lead to serious health problems, including:

  • Poor wound healing
  • Muscle weakness, leading to falls and fractures
  • Weakened immune system, which increases the risk of infections
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Pneumonia
  • Bedsores
  • Confusion and disorientation leading to further injuries
  • Life-threatening imbalances of electrolytes

Malnutrition and Dehydration is Easily Preventable

The most chilling fact about malnutrition and dehydration in nursing home residents is that it is unnecessary and easily preventable. Nursing homes are required by law to assess the nutritional needs of their residents and implement a comprehensive nutrition management plan. The nursing home staff must be adequately trained and nutrition plans must be adjusted as needed.

If your loved one has been injured due to malnutrition or dehydration in a nursing home, call our Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Now. DO NOT WAIT – call us today for a free consultation.



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