WARNING SIGN 5:  Malnutrition and Dehydration

One Third of U.S. Nursing Home Residents Suffer from Malnutrition or Dehydration 

Look in any brochure and you will see in bold print that one important benefit of nursing home care is that they provide meals and beverages suitable for the nutritional needs and physical state of the elderly residents that they care for. But research reveals a very different story. According to a recent study by National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, Malnutrition and Dehydration in Nursing Homes: Key Issues in Prevention and Treatment, At least a third of the 1.6 million nursing home residents in the United States suffer from malnutrition or dehydration. The study goes on to say that understaffing and lack of adequately trained personnel is largely to blame. It should be noted that, in some cases, physical and psychological problems also contribute.

There are federal laws that have been in place since 1987 (The Nursing Home Reform Act) to protect elderly residents in nursing homes. There are also New York State laws in place that protect the elderly in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. When it comes to nutrition the nursing home has to provide assistance with eating and special eating equipment or assistive devices and utensils if needed by the resident. 

When the nutritional needs of an elderly resident are not constantly monitored by staff, malnutrition and dehydration can occur. Below are the warning signs to look for.


  • Weight loss
  • Dry, cracked lips or mouth
  • Pale mouth and gums
  • Complaints of thirst or hunger
  • Infrequent urination and dark urine
  • Wound or sickness healing that takes longer than average
  • Pinch test - If you pinch the skin and the skin stays up or slowly goes back to normal
  • Skin that is drier than normal

The RGLZ attorneys have advocated tirelessly for numerous New York families, helping to right the many wrongs inflicted upon their loved ones in nursing home and assisted living facilities. If you suspect a loved one may be suffering from malnutrition or dehydration in their nursing home, file a complaint about nursing home care in New York State by clicking here, and then contact us for a FREE case evaluation.

Check our website regularly as we continue to review the individual warning signs of elder abuse over the next few weeks.








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Watch this video to learn more about malnutrition and dehydration in nursing homes from our own Michael Glass.  

"I was really impressed with RGLZ's knowledge and experience in nursing home abuse and negligence."

"The nursing home that took care of my father fought us hard on his wrongful death. I was really impressed with RGLZ's knowledge and experience in nursing home abuse and negligence, and was very pleased with their representation and overall service. I would absolutely recommend them." 

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Bed sores are skin ulcers that can sometimes go down to the bone. They are horribly painful and, once established, difficult to treat and cure. Insufficient staffing and inadequate training are the key causes of bed sores.

All too often nursing home slip-and-fall accidents are the result of substandard care. Patients suffer falls that could have been prevented with proper care.

Malnutrition & dehydration

Many elderly patients are unable to adequately feed themselves and need assistance in cutting and eating their food.

Freezing in winter, stifling in summer

The elderly are convenient victims. Taking advantage of the frequent inability of residents to voice complaints, facility operators maximize profits by keeping temperatures extremely low in the winter and extremely high in the summer.

High turnover, Poor Staffing

Many nursing home and assisted living facility employees are minimum wage workers with little training or experience. They have minimal incentive to provide quality care for the elderly. 

All too often, nurses and physicians at nursing homes use medication as a way to make their lives easier. They have learned from practice that drugging their patients is a way to keep them quiet, manageable and subdued.

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