The California Association of Health Facilities reports that as of 2023, there are almost 100,000 residents in nursing homes. If you have chosen to move your loved one into a nursing home, you know that the decision comes with the hope and trust that they will receive the best care possible in their golden years.
When you start to notice changes in their health, particularly unexplained weight loss, concerns understandably arise. Unplanned weight loss can result from a myriad of factors. However, when it happens in a nursing home setting, it is essential to consider whether negligence plays a part.
Causes of weight loss
Weight loss can be a natural result of aging as the body’s metabolism slows down, and appetite decreases. However, in a nursing home setting, other factors can contribute. Improper nutrition, where residents do not receive the right type or amount of food, can lead to weight loss. Similarly, lack of assistance during meal times for those who need help eating can cause residents to consume less than they should.
Some medications can suppress appetite or cause gastrointestinal problems, leading to weight loss. If staff in the nursing home are not monitoring residents’ reactions to medications or are not administering them correctly, it can result in unintended weight loss. Being observant of any new medications and their side effects is crucial.
Psychological factors and neglect
Depression, loneliness and stress can affect a person’s desire to eat. If a resident feels neglected, isolated or mistreated, they might lose their appetite, leading to weight loss. Emotional well-being is just as important as physical health, and nursing homes have a responsibility to cater to both.
What can you do?
If you notice significant weight loss in a loved one in a nursing home, address your concerns with the management. Ask about meal plans, medical evaluations and any changes in medications. Ensure that they are receiving proper nutritional care and attention to their emotional well-being.
While weight loss can be a natural part of aging, it is important to be vigilant when it comes to the health of loved ones in nursing homes. Always stay observant, ask questions and advocate for the best care possible for your family member. The well-being of your loved one depends on proactive attention and timely interventions.