Signs That a Nursing Home Resident May Be Malnourished

Placing our elderly loved ones in the care of others is always a difficult decision to make. We place them in the hands of trained, caring professionals with the confidence that our loved ones get the care they need and deserve. What happens, then, when their needs are not taken care of?

Malnutrition in nursing homes is a grossly high occurrence. Statistics show that nearly a third of the 1.8 million nursing home residents in the United States show signs of malnutrition and dehydration. This kind of neglect is very common in nursing homes for a variety of reasons.

In some cases dangerous malnutrition and dehydration happens because of severe understaffing in nursing homes, leaving a single nurse responsible for many patients. Even in the case which one overworked nurse does her best, the nursing home fails when a resident becomes malnourished or dehydrated and suffers the serious additional health problems that are caused by these conditions. Malnourishment can lead to a wide variety of health problems including weight loss, kidney failure and, in some cases, even death. It is important for you to know the signs.

Common malnourishment symptoms for nursing home residents are:

Skin Problems

Malnourished nursing home residents often show a sickly, yellow or dull pallid tone in their skin from a lack of proper nutrition. Their skin may show more wrinkles or blemishes and may appear dry.

Cognitive Problems

A resident’s ability to think straight is largely affected when malnourished. They may have difficulty holding a conversation, may show hostility or irritability, and even have trouble remembering things.

Dry Mouth / Cold Sores

Dehydration should never be over looked. A patient who is malnourished may show signs of chapped dry lips, canker sores, and signs of yeast infection on their tongue and cheeks.

Weight Loss / Low Energy

It’s not uncommon for a patient to become thin or in tragic cases, frail from a lack of nutrition. A patient should appear well fed – sudden and sizable weight loss should be a red flag. They may also seem tired and low on energy. While this can be expected, it is suspect if it’s a present factor with each visit.

Malnourishment is neglect and abuse – plain and simple. Malnourishment can always be avoided if proper care is in place. New Jersey citizens are protected by the Nursing Home Bill of Rights – when malnourishment occurs, you have the right to demand that the nursing home do their job.


You don’t have to fight alone. If your mother, father, family member or friend has been injured / malnourished due to nursing home neglect or abuse? Please fill out the contact form or call Barry Sugarman and the nursing home litigation team at Sugarman Law at 866-657-5660 to schedule your FREE consultation. Sugarman Law obtains compensation for those who suffer injuries and death from nursing home neglect and abuse.

Disclaimer: No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court. Years listed and methodology for inclusion.

Winning Results

  • $1,400,000

    against a nursing home for the choking death of a resident

  • $1,000,000

    against an assisted living facility for injury and wrongful death of a resident

  • $930,000

    against a Middlesex County nursing home for a resident’s pressure ulcers and wrongful death

  • $3,000,000

    settlement for workers with mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis caused by asbestos in the workplace