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William Rambaum, PA Clearwater & Oldsmar Elder Law Attorney

Malnutrition In The Elderly Can Be A Sign Of Elder Abuse


In general, elderly people eat less than young people do.  When your children and grandchildren visit you, you might be amazed at how quickly your grandkids can make food disappear; you might also have frequent conflicts with your working age daughter, where you accuse her of stress eating, but she insists that she is genuinely hungry.  Likewise, you might remember that your own grandmother ate like a bird, even after preparing a feast for the extended family.  Perhaps you don’t have any memories of her eating meals at all, since once you were old enough to form detailed memories, she only ever ate pastries and drank coffee.  Likewise, when President George H. Bush took office at age 68, he famously declared that, now that he was President of the United States, he was never going to eat broccoli again.  What is normal, and what is dangerous when it comes to seniors and eating?  Malnutrition is a common problem in the elderly, even in nursing home residents; it can sometimes be a sign of elder abuse or nursing home neglect.  If you are concerned that an elderly family member is not getting adequate nutrition on their own or in the care of a family member or nursing home, contact a Clearwater probate attorney.

Malnutrition and Self-Neglect

Malnutrition is when a person does not get enough calories in general or, even if they eat enough, are deficient in a certain nutrient because of inadequate dietary intake of that nutrient.  Signs of malnutrition include weight loss, weakness, poor wound healing, difficulty concentrating, and visible changes to the eyes, skin, and fingernails.  Among seniors living alone, malnutrition could be a sign of self-neglect.  Because of loneliness or memory problems, seniors might simply not feel like eating or not remember to eat.  It could be a sign that the person needs more care, whether from family members or a home health aide.

When Caregivers Fail to Provide Adequate Nutrition

Adequate medical care, whether the senior lives independently or in an assisted living facility or nursing home, means ensuring adequate nutrition.  Nurses or home health aides should be on the lookout for signs of malnutrition and alert the patient’s doctor promptly.  Doctors and dietitians should assess the patient’s dietary needs.  Some medications can inhibit absorption of certain nutrients, so prescribing a new medication or adjusting the dose can require doctors to recommend dietary changes or nutritional supplements.  Malnutrition in nursing homes is preventable, so if a nursing home patient is not getting adequate nutrition, this should raise a red flag about nursing home neglect.  An elder law attorney can help you research nursing homes to find one with a good track record of patient care and can help you assist a family member who is not receiving proper care.

Contact an Attorney for Help

A Central Florida elder law attorney can help ensure that your elderly relatives get the care they need.  Contact William Rambaum for help today.


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