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. If your loved one lost a significant amount of weight greater than 10% of their body mass index while a resident of a nursing home, contact Senior Justice Law Firm now at 888-375-9998 for a free case consultation. 

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:

  • Little or no assistance from nursing home staff with eating or drinking
  • Poor food quality being served at the facility (some textured modified diets result in reduced appetite) 
  • Food offered is inappropriate due to the resident’s underlying health condition
  • 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.

The Root Cause Behind Nursing Home Weight Loss is Due to Nurse Understaffing

Losing Weight Nursing Home DeathSo the solution is simple; give a little bit more attention to the nutritionally compromised residents. Why don’t nursing homes put this plan in action? It takes time, resources, and nurses to accomplish this.

Most nursing homes are run by for profit corporations. Their focus is on bottom line profits, not resident well being. Because of this, many residents get bare bones care in order to keep the company’s overhead costs low.

This underscores the importance of holding these for profit companies accountable when they neglect, abuse, or kill vulnerable nursing home residents.

Nursing Home Weight Loss is Generally Avoidable with Appropriate Nursing Care

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;
  • Enough aides to physically assist high-needs residents with eating; 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. Inquire about getting an aide to physically help your loved one eat, ensuring they are holding down their food and not choking.

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.

At Senior Justice Law Firm, nursing home neglect cases are all we do. We want to help your family get through this difficult chapter. Call us now at 888-375-9998.

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Post updated 6-27-2021

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