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Malnutrition: Elder Neglect

When nursing homes are understaffed or caregivers are not as attentive as they should be to the elderly individuals under their care, their neglect could lead to serious health detriments. Malnutrition is one of the most concerning of all the adverse effects caused by elder neglect, because it is an issue that can quickly lead to serious physical impairment, mental incapacitation, or even death.

How to Recognize Signs of Malnutrition

Malnutrition can be particularly dangerous because it often continues for months on end without anyone being made aware of the problem. Symptoms of malnutrition depend on the severity of the malnourishment, and sometimes, it is possible for the issue to occur for weeks or months before visible signs arise.

Although it is the professional responsibility of caretakers to properly attend to their elderly patients' nutritional and medical needs, there have been several reported cases in which neglect led to malnutrition. Therefore, the responsibility of ensuring that this type of abuse is not allowed to continue falls on the friends and families of the elderly loved ones who have been put under the attention of a caretaker. Symptoms of malnutrition include:

  • Weight loss
  • Dry or scaly skin
  • Complaints of bone or joint aches
  • Mental confusion or dementia
  • Long-lasting diarrhea
  • Weakness (from decreased muscle mass)
  • Wounds that take a significant time to heal

Professional caregiving standards require that elderly individuals receive the attention they both need and deserve. This attention applies to a senior's nutritional health as well. Many older individuals suffer from medical conditions that require a strict diet with specific supplements to aid in the maintenance of their overall health. Neglecting these needs can result in malnutrition, as well as other serious medical conditions.


Malnutrition and dehydration often go hand-in-hand, as elderly individuals whose needs are neglected often experience neglect at every level. This means that they can be denied their basic needs, right down the food and water they require to remain healthy. Dehydration can cause health issues that are more severe than those caused by malnutrition in some cases. In the worse scenarios, death can even result from dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Lack of sweating
  • Dry skin
  • Headaches
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Constipation
  • Irritability
  • Confusion

Ensuring that patients are properly hydrated is the job every caretaker, whether they are attending to an elderly individual or not. When basic hydration and nutritional needs are net met by the caregivers who are expected to be providing exactly that, legal action can and should be taken. Cases often need to be brought before a judge in order to yield the compensation that elderly individuals are rightfully due as the victims of malnutrition or dehydration.

Legal Help

DominaLaw Group has been invested in the lives of injured victims since 1975. For well over three decades, we have actively helped elderly individuals and their families take accusations of abuse and neglect to court. Our trial experience and deep respect for the law have yielded successful results on a number of occasions and we are prepared to invest equally strong efforts on your behalf as well. We encourage you to contact our office today to learn more about identifying the problem of malnutrition and what actions can be taken to legally remedy the situation.

Domina Law Group pc llo
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