Improving food intake in persons living with dementia

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Abstract

Persons living with dementia have many health concerns, including poor nutritional states. This narrative review provides an overview of the literature on nutritional status in persons diagnosed with a dementing illness or condition. Poor food intake is a primary mechanism for malnutrition, and there are many reasons why poor food intake occurs, especially in the middle and later stages of the dementing illness. Research suggests a variety of interventions to improve food intake, and thus nutritional status and quality of life, in persons with dementia. For family care partners, education programs have been the focus, while a range of intervention activities have been the focus in residential care, from tableware changes to retraining of self-feeding. It is likely that complex interventions are required to more fully address the issue of poor food intake, and future research needs to focus on diverse components. Specifically, modifying the psychosocial aspects of mealtimes is proposed as a means of improving food intake and quality of life and, to date, is a neglected area of intervention development and research.

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