Association between activity level and changes in bodyweight in dementia patients

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Abstract

Introduction

Bodyweight is routinely used as an important health assessment measure in care facilities. Recently, the integrated circuit (IC) tag monitoring system became available for measuring the distance walked by patients with dementia (PsWD) over an extended period. The main objective of the present study was to examine an association between the distance walked and changes in bodyweight in PsWD.

Methods

Monitoring was conducted in a semi-acute dementia care unit in Japan between November 2006 and March 2007. All patients had been diagnosed with dementia and were able to walk independently. Demographic and food intake data were obtained from medical records. Bodyweight was measured weekly. The monitoring system calculated the distance walked. The study was approved by the Ethics Committees of Osaka University and Asakayama Hospital and written informed consent was obtained from authorized proxies.

Results

In total, 23 patients were monitored. The median distance walked per day for all subjects was 1042.7 m (range 136–7781m) and the mean rate of weight change per month was −0.1 kg (range −1.5 to 2.4 kg). The mean food intake per day was 97 ± 5% (range 79–100%). There was a significant negative correlation between median distance walked per day and rate of weight change per month (r= −0.52; P < 0.05). Distance walked per day was divided into three groups (<1 km, 1–2 km and ≥ 2 km), but there was no change in mean food intake between the three groups. However, PsWD who walked ≥ 2 km/day tended to have higher total Neuropsychiatric Inventory–Nursing Home Version (NPI-NH) scores and a higher number of symptoms than those who walked < 2 km/day. The former tended to have aberrant motor activity compared with the latter.

Conclusion

The present study shows that the distance walked per day seems to play a major role in weight change. Because the IC tag monitoring system can measure the distance walked accurately over an extended period, it could be used to estimate the calorie expenditure for each patient and to reduce the various risks related to weight loss.

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