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Malnutrition in the Elderly

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    PHOENIX, AZ, September 29, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Malnutrition is when a person is not getting enough calories and other nutrients to maintain long-term health. Although the elderly are commonly put into nursing homes in an attempt to ensure they are getting the care they need to sustain themselves, the unfortunate truth is that nursing home abuse and neglect can dramatically decrease the life span of nursing home residents, and one common sign of neglect is malnutrition.

The Scope of the Problem

It's unknown just how widespread the problem of malnutrition is among nursing home residents. A 2000 research review cited figures that ranged from 35 to 85 % of nursing home residents are malnourished. According to the same review, 30 to 50% of nursing home residents are underweight.

A more recent (2004) study looking at deaths in nursing homes showed that about 42% of deceased nursing home residents suffered from malnutrition.

Consequences of Malnutrition

Malnutrition results in a wide range of health effects that not only decrease a nursing home resident's quality of life, they may lead to pain, disability, and early death.

Another 2004 study identified the quality of life impact of malnutrition. According to the study, seniors with high nutritional risk (malnutrition) had fewer good physical health days and lower whole-life satisfaction than residents with good nutrition.

Nursing home residents with low nutrition are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions. They are more likely to get infections, pressure ulcers, anemia, hypotention, confusion, poor wound healing, and bone fractures, especially hip fractures. They are more likely to become weak, fatigued, bedridden apathetic, and depressed.

Nursing home residents who suffer from malnutrition are more likely to die if they are taken to the hospital, five times as likely, in fact.

Look for Signs of Malnutrition

One way to protect your loved one is to visit them regularly and keep an eye out for signs of malnutrition. These include:

- Weight loss
- Fatigue
- Complaints of thirst or hunger
- Ill-fitting clothes
- Skin that becomes dull, and may crack and bleed, especially around the mouth.

If you notice these signs, you should talk to the nursing home about your loved one's eating and nutrition. If the signs worsen or do not improve, it is likely that nursing home negligence or abuse is to blame and you may want to consider legal action.

To learn more about your legal rights in Phoenix, please visit the website of Cullan & Cullan, MD, JD today at http://www.stopnursinghomeabuse.org.


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