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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 an 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.