Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Eating in dementia

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief


I have to admit to a conflict of interest in promoting this article. Not only is the area of eating in dementia my own field of research, my work is cited in the article. The article in question comes come the USA and is by Liu et al. and titled: 'Factors associated with eating performance for long-term care residents with moderate-to-severe cognitive impairment'. It is published in JAN. Eating difficulty (in this field usually referred to as 'feeding' difficulty) in older people with dementia is one of the unsolved issues in care of older people. While many people are peripheral to the issue: physiotherapists, nutritionists, occupational therapists and physicians, the issue of feeding difficulty is one that lies largely in the nursing domain. Nearly 70% of older people in nursing homes have some form of dementia and 65% of those have severe impairment in the ability to self-feed and require assistance.

The stated aim of this study was: 'to examine the association of specific personal and environmental factors with eating performance among long-term care residents with moderate-to-severe cognitive impairment'. Data were gathered secondarily from two randomised controlled trials involving older people with dementia and a range of standard cognitive screening and activity of daily living and agitation instruments were used. The results showed that some patient characteristics were not associated with feeding difficulty, including: age, gender, race, marital status, education and years living in the long-term care facility. On the other hand: sitting balance, type of long-term care facility, cognitive impairment and physical capability were significantly associated. It was a surprise to me that depressive symptoms and agitation were not associated with feeding difficulty. The authors concluded: 'This study provided additional information to support the association of eating performance with cognitive impairment and physical capability that can help guide future clinical practice and intervention research. Efforts should be made to reduce the impact of cognitive decline on eating performance and to promote physical capability for optimizing eating performance'.


Listen to this as a podcast.


Reference

Liu W, Galike E, Boltz M, Nahme E-S, Lerner N, Resnick B (2015) Factors associated with eating performance for long-term care residents with moderate-to-severe cognitive impairment Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12846



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