Chicago Nursing Home Malnutrition and Dehydration Lawyer

Nutritional well-being is crucial to a good quality of life. Despite numerous guidelines designed to prevent the issue, malnutrition and dehydration continue to be widespread in nursing homes.

If you suspect that your loved one is undernourished or dehydrated as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the elder abuse attorneys at Levin & Perconti. We’ll help you take the next steps to ensure proper care and hold those accountable who aren’t meeting the basic needs of your loved one.

What Is Malnutrition?

Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in energy or nutrient intake. In nursing homes, malnutrition is often due to a deficiency in the caloric intake needed to maintain health.

Stages of Malnutrition: Effects on the Mind and Body

The effects of malnutrition on the mind and body vary and can happen in any order. These effects may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Dental decay
  • Yellowing skin
  • White fingernails
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating or communicating

Awareness of the signs of malnutrition is important. Often, by the time you’re able to detect malnutrition, its effects have already taken a toll on the body, impacting the blood, tissues, and metabolic processes. However, when discovered early, some of the long-term adverse effects can be stopped.

What Is Dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when the loss of body fluids, mostly water, is greater than the amount of water or fluids taken in. We lose water when breathing, sweating, and using the bathroom. If we lose too much water, our bodies can become dehydrated.

Stages of Dehydration: Warning Signs and Symptoms

Dehydration ranges from mild to severe. Signs of mild or moderate dehydration might include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Lower urine output
  • Weaker and darker urine output
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Dry skin
  • Inability to produce tears

Symptoms of severe dehydration include:

  • Little to no urine output
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Urine that is dark yellow or amber
  • Dizziness that affects walking
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Seizure
  • Shock
  • Kidney failure

Adults who experience any of these symptoms should seek immediate medical care.

Are Seniors More Likely to Suffer From Dehydration?

Dehydration more often affects seniors. One study found that it’s among the top ten reasons for hospitalization of elderly adults. With age, many older people find it more difficult to recognize when they’re thirsty, or they may have a fear of falling that prevents them from hydrating adequately to avoid having to get up to access the bathroom. In addition, biological changes within the body resulting in water, salt, and electrolyte imbalances naturally occur as people get older.

Dehydration can also be caused by impairments or disabilities that make the physical act of drinking difficult. Those with mental impairments like dementia may forget to drink altogether, making adequate hydration challenging.

Lastly, many medications used to treat various health conditions that often affect elderly people can lead to dehydration. Medical conditions themselves, such as diabetes, diarrhea, and fever can also result in reduced hydration.

Common Causes of Nursing Home Malnutrition and Dehydration

The physical or psychological causes for malnutrition and dehydration can include illness, adverse drug effects, food and drug interactions, and swallowing disorders.

Sometimes malnutrition and dehydration stem from environmental factors associated with living in a nursing home. These factors can include:

  • Inadequate attention from staff or understaffing
  • Lack of individualized care
  • Poor staff training in proper ways to assist with eating and drinking
  • High staff turnover rates
  • Reliance on liquid supplements
  • Unappetizing or cold food
  • Unpleasant dining environment
  • Absence of fresh water within easy reach
  • Lack of oral care

Any or all of these causes can contribute to dehydration and malnutrition. The long-term results of this kind of inadequate care can be very harmful.

Dangers of Nursing Home Malnutrition and Dehydration

When lacking proper nutrition and fluids, a nursing home patient could experience increased infections, confusion, and muscle weakness. These symptoms can result in immobility, falls, ulcers, pneumonia, and a suppressed immune system.

When malnutrition and dehydration are left unchecked, they can result in major medical events such as organ failure, stroke, heart attacks, or even death.

Identifying Signs of Malnutrition or Dehydration

Nursing home staff is responsible for providing residents with adequate nutrition. If you notice your loved one is beginning to show signs of dehydration or malnutrition, the nursing home may be held accountable.

Signs to watch for to determine if your loved one is receiving adequate care, nutrition, and fluids include the following:

  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Lack of balance, falls, or fainting spells
  • Fatigue, weakness, or sluggishness
  • Inability to stay warm
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Dry mouth or difficulty swallowing
  • Thirst
  • Mouth sores and swollen or bleeding gums
  • Recurrent infections
  • Nausea
  • Bloated abdomen

Malnutrition and dehydration are serious and life-threatening conditions that require immediate attention. Report any unaddressed concerns you may have to the proper authorities, such as social services or a long-term care ombudsman. If a related injury occurs, contact an attorney.

How Can Levin & Perconti Help if Your Loved One Was Injured or Killed by Nursing Home Neglect?

Nursing home abuse and neglect can be difficult to prove. If you suspect your loved one is dehydrated or malnourished because of inadequate care at a nursing home, ask an attorney to look at the facts of your potential case to determine the best course of action.

Our team of nursing home abuse attorneys at Levin & Perconti can help you understand nursing home laws and determine how they relate to your circumstances. Nursing home facilities don’t always follow the law, and we can be a powerful resource to help achieve justice and compensation on your loved one’s behalf

Our compassionate and knowledgeable lawyers have won millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients. Our top-notch client care has earned us a place on several best lawyer lists, including the Illinois Top 100 lawyer list and Best Lawyers in America.

If you think your loved one is suffering or has died because of nursing home neglect that led to malnutrition and dehydration, contact the lawyers at Levin & Perconti today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Malnutrition and Dehydration In Nursing Homes

If you have a loved one who has been harmed or has died because of nursing home neglect or abuse that resulted in malnutrition and dehydration, you may have questions.

Is my elderly family member at a greater risk for nursing home malnutrition and dehydration?
This is best determined by your loved one’s physician and nursing home staff when formulating a care plan at the time of admission. Certain patients are at higher risk for these conditions based on their age or physical and mental needs. Your loved one’s care plan should be consistently reassessed and adjustments should be made throughout their stay to address any specific needs or particular risks.

How do I report suspected neglect or abuse in a nursing home?
To report suspected abuse in a nursing home, you can call the Illinois Department of Health’s Nursing Home Complaint Hotline at 1-800-252-4343.

You should also contact a nursing home abuse attorney who can help guide you as you seek justice for your elderly loved one and family.

Can I sue on behalf of a loved one injured or killed at a nursing home?
Generally, the answer is yes. You should contact the elder neglect and abuse attorneys at Levin & Perconti and we can help you understand how the law applies to your specific situation.

What kind of compensation can I receive on behalf of my loved one?
Cases vary, but per Illinois law, you can receive compensation for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering for the victim, disabilities that result from the neglect, and punitive damages.

How long do I have to file a nursing home abuse or neglect or wrongful death lawsuit in Illinois?
In Illinois, the statute of limitations for wrongful death or nursing home injury is two years from the date of death or the date of the incident that caused the injury.

Timing considerations can be impacted by a variety of factors, but they are vital when pursuing your case. Contact a nursing home lawyer as soon as possible to determine whether you have a valid case against a nursing home on behalf of your loved one.

Margaret, Daisy and Bryan. This magnificent cohesive team led by Margaret represented us for my mom's nursing home wrongful death case. They were most patient and responded timely to many questions throughout the entire process. All demonstrated professionalism and extensive knowledge of case and state laws. Their in-depth investigative work uncovered details which were unknown to us and yet sadly confirmed our suspicions. We would recommend the Levin and Perconti Law firm and especially this team. Kathy and Ron
Mr. Levin, Mr. Perconti and the firm handled a medical malpractice suit for my family. During that time, my family and I suffered the loss of my mother. Mr. Levin and Mr. Peconti were more than just our lawyers. Words can’t really express our gratitude. My family and I will always be grateful for the compassion that they showed us. I want to thank you for what you did for my family, and for always being there for us. W.R., Medical Malpractice Client
Our deepest appreciation to the law firm of Levin & Perconti, and in particular to Margaret Battersby Black, in the handling of the lawsuit we field n behalf of our sister who sustained life-threatening injuries as a nursing home resident. Margaret’s representation, guidance, and professionalism gave us the sense that we could put our trust in Levin & Perconti and the final outcome proved that to be true. D.G., Nursing Home Client
I want to send my heartfelt thanks to John Perconti and the Levin & Perconti staff in taking our case. Not only were they so professional but also so caring and thoughtful. It was very difficult going over the facts in our mother's case but they were so compassionate and understanding and allowed us to be with them every step of the way. We were able to sit in on the depositions and we were really able to see how hard they worked on our behalf. M.R.Z., nursing home client
Mr. Levin, Mr. Perconti, and the firm handled a medical malpractice suit for my family. During that time, my family and I suffered the loss of my mother. Mr. Levin and Mr. Perconti were more than just our lawyers. Words can’t really express our gratitude. W.R., medical malpractice client