Why is my Family Member Losing So Much Weight Inside the Nursing Home?

Rapid weight loss inside Nursing Home

Rapid weight loss inside a nursing home is a serious health risk to elderly residents. So why is your loved one losing weight inside a nursing home? Tragically, it may be due to nursing home neglect.

Why Do Older Residents Lose Weight Inside Nursing Homes?

A recent investigation by the Federal Government found 43% of nursing home residents sampled to be critically underweight. This is an unacceptable figure. Nursing home residents are more vulnerable than the average patient. Nursing homes are aware of this fact and have a legal duty to stop preventable weight loss in their residents.

A nursing home resident may rapidly lose weight for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Poor food quality being served at the facility
  • Inability to eat or swallow (requiring pureed diet or human assistance with eating)
  • Withholding of food by nursing home staff
  • Malnutrition or dehydration (withholding of water)

While the causes of serious weight loss may not always be due to nursing home negligence, the failure on the part of the facility to do something about the weight loss is where liability may come in for injuries or wrongful death.

Preventing Weight Loss and Malnutrition in Nursing Homes is Easy

Another recent nursing home weight loss study was published, revealing that preventing harmful malnutrition and dehydration can be done in the nursing home setting, but it takes time. Over a period of months, similarly situated residents were divided into two groups. One group received nutrition intervention in the form of high calories snacks and supplements while the other group received the standard nursing home meals. Unsurprisingly, the group that received the extra nutritional attention gained weight while the other group continued to lose weight. So the solution is simple; why don’t nursing homes put this plan in action? It takes time and nurses to accomplish this. The study’s results revealed the following:

The average amount of staff time required to provide the interventions was 42 minutes per person/meal and 13 minutes per person/between meal snack compared to usual care during which residents received, on average, 5 minutes of assistance per person/meal and less than one minute per person/snack.

This means, in order to safely stop weight loss in older at-risk patients, nursing homes must provide:

  • Nutritionists to consult with rapid weight loss patients;
  • Enough nurses to actually implement the plan of care created by those nutritionists; and,
  • The proper food, supplements and snacks in order to fight elderly malnutrition.

This all translates to costs on the nursing home’s part. If the facility places its profits ahead of its people, they may not splurge on extra staff and nutritional supplements, even though it is a matter of life and death for its residents. Allowing a vulnerable patient to waste away and die due to malnourished is a form of nursing home negligence. This kind of harm can and should be addressed in a wrongful death lawsuit.

What You Can Do About Your Family Member’s Weight Loss Inside a Nursing Home

If They Are Still Alive, It is Not Too Late!

If your loved one is losing weight quickly inside a nursing home or assisted living facility, it is not too late to intervene. Demand a consultation with a nutritionist and a doctor to address your loved one’s caloric intake. Ask questions about supplements, snacks, shakes and even tube feedings.

If They Have Passed Away, Seek Justice Through an Investigation

If your loved one suffered significant weight loss (10% or more of their body weight) before dying, you should conduct an investigation into the cause of their death. Speak with our nursing home abuse lawyers today for a free consultation. With a combined 50+ years litigating nursing home weight loss cases, our caring and compassionate law firm can help answer your toughest questions. The call is free and there is no obligation to bring a claim. Call us now at 1-844-253-8919.

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