Dehydration & Malnutrition

The silent epidemic of malnutrition and dehydration in nursing home residents is directly related to inadequate staffing

(Journal of Gerontological Nursing)

Sadly, most nursing home residents are at high risk of dehydration and malnutrition.  There are many reasons for this:

  • Most nursing homes simply do not have the staff members necessary to ensure that all residents are adequately hydrated and fed.  One CNA can be responsible for feeding 10 or more residents at mealtimes. This shortage of nursing home staff results in other problems as well such as injury-causing falls and decubitus ulcers.
  • Feeding a resident who is unable to eat independently or who has difficulty in chewing or swallowing food requires considerable knowledge . . . and patience.  A resident who has eating difficulties takes much longer to feed than a resident who simply does not have the motor coordination to feed himself.  Many residents end up being “force-fed” or not fed at all.
  • Residents who are able to feed and hydrate themselves routinely complain that they do not have access to fresh water, juices or snacks during the day and that many meals are tasteless or inedible.

Aside from weight loss and increased frailty, residents who are not provided with basic nutrition and hydration tend to be lethargic and less aware of their surroundings; are more prone to falls due to weakness; chronic illnesses; and have more medication reactions, depression, loneliness and agitation.  And, of course, residents who are not provided with these basic necessities are being denied one of life’s few pleasures that they may still enjoy – a comforting and satisfying meal.

The information provided on this site concerning dehydration and malnutrition is meant as a brief overview. Specific Federal and State laws and regulations apply and each case is unique and fact-intensive. Please contact our office today for additional information and assistance.


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