If your loved one is suddenly looking more thin or frail, this can be a cause of concern. Nursing home residents who lose a significant amount of weight can be at higher risk for further decline. Before you can halt the weight loss in your loved one, you need to understand the reason it is happening.
Why Is Your Loved One Losing Weight?
There are a variety of different reasons that an elderly person can be losing weight. Those in a care facility are likely having some degree of difficulty in caring for themselves. This can show up as weight loss when they are not able to feed themselves.
Although nursing home aides are supposed to help residents with eating and drinking, they often do not have time to do so. In Iowa, nursing home abuse attorneys often report that understaffing is a huge problem for many nursing homes. Aides simply do not have the time to assist each person with their meals. Understaffing also means that those who need to be monitored for nutritional deficiencies are not watched as closely as they should be.
Even if your loved one has no trouble feeding themselves, there may be other issues are that causing weight loss. For example, many chronic diseases in the elderly have loss of appetite as a symptom. Because of this, your loved one might not feel like eating much or at all. These diseases can also cause taste and smell senses to dull and make food less appetizing.
How You Can Make Sure Your Loved One is Getting Enough to Eat at Their Nursing Home
There are several ways you can combat your loved one’s weight loss.
First, check the food that your loved one is being offered – would you eat it? Would you serve it to a guest? Does it look and smell appetizing? Is there enough food on the plate? If the answer to any of those questions is no, speak with the dietitian at the facility and see if the food options can be changed or improved.
Also check with the dietitian to see if a less restrictive diet is possible, given your loved one’s health concerns. The staff may be able to provide various food options or snacks during the day so caloric needs are met.
Many residents have unresolved medical issues that make it more difficult to get the calories they need. This is especially true for those who have dental problems, like loose or sore teeth or improperly fitted dentures. Sore mouths can limit the amount of food that can be eaten. To make sure that no health problems are causing the lack of appetite, make sure a medical checkup is done for both physical and mental concerns.
Finally, have a meeting with the director of the facility and set up a care plan to make sure your loved one is receiving enough time and assistance with their meals. If this assistance does not happen consistently, consider moving them to a facility that can better serve their needs.
If you suspect your loved one is being neglected or mistreated by a nursing home facility, you should consult with an Iowa nursing home abuse attorney to see what your options are. Call us at 1-319-774-1542 today, or learn more by downloading our FREE Law Guide to Iowa Nursing Home Abuse Claims.