Regardless of your loved one’s health issues, there is nothing more fundamental to her survival and her well-being then proper nutrition and hydration. You trust that the nursing home, assisted living center, medical facility, or other facility where she resides is providing food and water safely and in a way that prevents malnutrition and dehydration.
California nursing homes are required by state and federal regulations to provide every resident with a nourishing and well-balanced diet that meets each individual resident’s unique nutritional needs. Unfortunately, this does not always happen and the consequences can be severe.
Dehydration and Malnutrition Are Risks—But They Can Be Prevented
Many elderly people are at risk of dehydration and malnutrition. The human body dehydrates more quickly as it ages. Additionally, older people are at risk of dehydration and malnutrition because of certain:
- Medical conditions. High blood sugar, difficulty swallowing, depression, or dementia can interfere with proper hydration and nutrition.
- Medications. Some medications may change a person’s need for fluid or food.
- Physical limitations. Some people are unable to move well enough to eat and drink independently.
Despite these risks, it is the responsibility of the nursing home or other facility responsible for elderly residents’ care to make sure that they have proper nutrition and hydration. When a resident is malnourished or dehydrated, the facility may be liable for elder abuse or neglect. Your loved one may have suffered malnutrition or dehydration because of abuse or neglect if:
- The facility was understaffed. There needs to be sufficient staffing to ensure that residents get food and water and that they actually consume the food and water.
- The facility failed to train staff sufficiently. Staff must receive appropriate training in feeding and hydration to make sure that each resident safely gets the food and water that she needs.
- Staff members failed to recognize the signs of dehydration or malnutrition and to take action. People who are dehydrated or malnourished may have changes in urine color or output, may be dizzy or experience headaches, may have dry lips, mouth, and skin, may have sudden weight loss, may be weak, and may exhibit other symptoms. Staff members should recognize these symptoms of dehydration and malnourishment and take action.
- Staff members deliberately withheld food or water. Sometimes staff members may purposefully withhold water or food. This may occur, for example, if they have an incontinent patient and they want to minimize the amount of work they need to do.
- Staff members failed to provide food or water appropriately for the resident. This includes a diet that is appropriate for the resident’s medical conditions. For example, a person suffering from diabetes should be provided with a balanced meal to address blood sugar issues, and a person who is unable to swallow may need a feeding tube or intravenous fluids.
- Staff members failed to account for short-term medical issues or changes in medication. A person who is suffering from a virus or an infection or who has had a change in medication may have different nutrition and hydration needs. It is the facility’s responsibility to identify those needs and to meet them.
A thorough investigation can determine what caused your loved one to become malnourished or dehydrated. As part of this investigation, our experienced elder abuse lawyers will look into whether your loved one was provided with:
- Three meals a day that met her nutritional needs.
- A snack before bedtime.
- The opportunity to make reasonable requests and preferences known.
- Alternatives if she refused food.
- Food that is served at the right temperature and in a way in which she can consume it safely.
Without these things, your loved one could have been badly hurt.
Why Dehydration and Malnutrition Are Dangerous
Anyone—particularly an older person—faces certain risks from dehydration and malnutrition. In its earliest stages, the effects of dehydration and malnutrition can often be reversed. However, over time, dehydration and malnutrition can result in:
- Dizziness, confusion, and muscle weakness
- Urinary tract infections
- Kidney failure
If your loved one suffered any of these conditions because of abuse or neglect then she may have the right to a legal recovery.
Potential Compensation After a Dehydration or Malnutrition Injury
If your loved one suffered from dehydration or malnutrition due to negligence or abuse in a nursing home or a healthcare facility, then your loved one may have the right to recover compensation for her past, current, and future:
- Medical expenses
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Physical pain and emotional suffering
You may be entitled to additional damages if your loved one died from malnourishment or dehydration. In addition to the damages described above, you may also be able to recover for the love, guidance, and affection you have lost and your loved one’s funeral and burial costs.
How to Help Your Loved One Get the Fair Recovery That She Deserves
Nursing home residents, assisted living residents, and older people in healthcare facilities are vulnerable. They need care—that is why they are in these facilities. When the facility is negligent or the staff members are abusive, then serious injuries such as dehydration and malnutrition can result and your loved one has a legal right to pursue a fair recovery.
Elder abuse law is not like other types of California personal injury cases. If your loved one has been hurt then you need a legal team that is not afraid to hold the facility accountable and who will never lose sight that it is your loved one that we are protecting.
We want to know what your loved one was like before and after she suffered from dehydration and malnutrition and we want to know what the nursing home or other facility did to cause her injury. We will work tirelessly to get these answers. Once a complete investigation has been done and the necessary evidence has been obtained, we will work toward a fair settlement with the company that insures the facility. If such a settlement cannot be reached then we will not hesitate to take your loved one’s case to trial to protect her rights.
Absent a medical reason and a good faith effort to provide adequate nutrition and hydration, malnutrition and dehydration should never happen. Let us help your family right the wrong that has been done. Contact us today via this website or by phone to schedule your free and confidential consultation today.