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Nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s may be hungry or thirsty

| Aug 21, 2019 | Nursing Home Negligence

When your loved one lost the ability to effectively communicate with you, your relationship entered a new phase on many levels. The loss caused emotional trauma for you, and it also led to more responsibilities for your loved one’s caretakers.

WebMD notes that Alzheimer’s patients often stop eating or drinking for a variety of reasons. This can lead to many health issues.

Causes of eating and drinking issues

If the nursing home staff is paying attention, they should notice when a resident is not eating or drinking. This can be due to any number of problems:

  • Developing an illness, or a current illness is worsening
  • Suffering from anxiety or depression
  • Experiencing tooth or gum pain, or pain or discomfort elsewhere in the body
  • Medication affecting the appetite
  • Being uncomfortable with changes in meals, such as a different staff member bringing the food

Feeding a resident with Alzheimer’s may be difficult for staff. Patients may have a drastic change in tastes during later stages of their condition and refuse to eat many foods. If staff does not serve the food at the same time every day, the lack of routine may affect patients’ willingness to eat, or they may not recognize that what the staff member has brought for them is food. They may even simply forget how to eat.

Signs of poor nutrition or dehydration

When nursing homes do not have enough workers on staff or when staff do not receive proper training, there may not be anyone to notice that your loved one has an issue that makes food or liquids disagreeable. If you notice such problems yourself, you may want to also look for signs of dehydration:

  • Fast heart rate
  • Weakness
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry tongue
  • Changes in color and frequency of urination

Someone suffering from Alzheimer’s needs attentive care. If you suspect that the nursing home is not taking steps to make sure your loved one is receiving proper nutrition and hydration, you may want to contact the nursing home supervisor and the long-term care ombudsman. You may also want to check into your legal options.