The vast majority of nursing homes in Florida are safe facilities that are professionally operated. Many elderly Floridians in nursing homes make friends, participate in a variety of activities, and are cared for well.
However, some nursing homes in Florida are dangerous and poorly managed, and the residents of these facilities are at risk for neglect and abuse. Nursing home abuse can lead to a number of dangerous medical complications including malnutrition. Can a nursing home abuse law firm in Florida help?
HOW MANY FAMILIES RELY ON NURSING HOMES?
By 2026, more than 71 million people in this country will be 65 years old or older. Every day, about 10,000 people in the U.S. turn age 65, and in Florida, almost a quarter of the population is age 60 or older.
According to the Florida Health Care Association, there are currently 863 licensed nursing homes in Florida. About 72,000 families in this state rely on one of these nursing homes for the care of a loved one. These families need to know about malnutrition and how to spot it.
What are the signs of nursing home abuse – and the signs of malnutrition? What should families in Florida know about nursing homes and malnutrition? A sudden weight loss, for example, is usually a sign of malnutrition that requires prompt medical attention.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER SIGNS OF MALNUTRITION?
However, it is important to know that someone – and particularly an elderly person – may be malnourished without any apparent weight loss. Other malnutrition symptoms may include:
- mood swings and depression
- constantly feeling weak or tired
- lack of appetite
- long recovery times for wounds and illnesses
Malnutrition is one of the most common health problems among the roughly 1.6 million nursing home residents in the U.S. Several easy-to-avoid medical conditions are caused by malnutrition. Malnutrition creates a higher risk for developing heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
WHAT ARE THE PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF MALNUTRITION?
When you visit your loved one in a nursing home, look closely at his or her physical appearance. The physical symptoms of elderly malnutrition can include:
- Problems around the mouth: A malnutrition sufferer’s mouth may turn bright red. Canker sores may appear. Oral thrush and yeast infections may cause white patches to appear on the tongue and cheeks.
- Problems with cognition: Malnutrition eventually impairs the memory and the ability to think clearly. Patients may also exhibit listlessness or irritability.
- Problems with the eyes: Swollen corneas or glassy, red eyes may be symptoms of malnutrition. Vision may decline.
- Problems with the muscles: Elderly malnutrition may make muscles weaker as the body uses nutrients stored in the muscles to compensate for the lack of incoming nutrition. The simplest task may cause fatigue.
- Problems with the skin: A patient’s skin may turn yellowish due to malnutrition. The skin may also become exceedingly wrinkled, and it can turn white beneath the fingernails.
WHY DOES NURSING HOME ABUSE HAPPEN?
Responsibility for a nursing home resident’s malnutrition – or any other neglect or abuse – can almost always be traced back to the staff or management.
Personal injury cases arising from nursing home abuse show us that the most likely reasons for nursing home neglect and abuse are:
- inadequate training
- inexperienced personnel
Some nursing home owners simply will not hire the personnel that they need. Others require little hands-on training. Personnel turnover is exceedingly high at nursing homes.
Florida’s best nursing homes make profits without sacrificing their quality of care, but when the owners of a nursing home place profits over the health and security of the residents, elder abuse is likely to happen, and families can hold accountable those who are responsible for the abuse.
WHAT CAN FAMILIES DO TO PROTECT THEIR LOVED ONES?
How can a family know that their beloved relative in a nursing home is being cared for and treated properly?
First, you need to do some research. Verify that the facility you have chosen is licensed properly. Be pro-active. Communicate frequently with the staff, show up unpredictably, speak to the families of other residents of the facility, and stay vigilant for any signs of neglect or abuse.
If you find any indications of malnutrition, abuse, or exploitation, you must act at once on your loved one’s behalf. You must speak as quickly as you can to an experienced Stuart nursing home abuse attorney.
HOW CAN TOP LAW FIRMS IN FL HELP?
After meeting with you and reviewing the details of your claim, an attorney may recommend bringing a personal injury action against the nursing home facility, contacting the police and pursuing criminal charges, or both.
If you believe that a loved one is being abused or neglected at a nursing home, and particularly if you spot any of the outward or visible indications of malnutrition or abuse, talk with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
When your family can prove that a nursing home facility or employee has abused or neglected your elderly loved one, the employee or facility can be held liable with a personal injury lawsuit.
WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS OF NURSING HOME RESIDENTS?
A nursing home abuse victim may be reimbursed for additional necessary medical costs along with compensation for that victim’s personal suffering and pain. In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded to deter nursing home abuse in the future.
Anything that violates the rights of a nursing home resident, puts that person at risk, or denies that individual’s basic human dignity may be deemed nursing home neglect or abuse.
If you have an elderly relative who is living in a nursing home in Florida, always be vigilant for the signs of malnutrition. If you suspect malnutrition or other negligence, exploitation, or abuse, discuss your family’s rights at once with an experienced Stuart nursing home abuse attorney.
Nothing, of course, has a higher priority than the well-being and the safety of your loved ones. If you believe that someone you love is at risk in a Florida nursing home, do the right thing. Seek an attorney’s help. That is your right and your family’s right.