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Keywords:

  • dementia;
  • empirical research report;
  • health outcomes;
  • long-term care;
  • nursing;
  • nutritional status;
  • older people

Abstract

Title. Nutritional status and health outcomes for older people with dementia living in institutions

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to determine changes over a 3-month period among older people with dementia living in long-term care settings, related to: (1) changes in body mass index, and (2) health outcomes and associated factors.

Background.  Nutritional deficiencies are common problems among older people, but frequently unrecognized, both in long-term care settings and in the community.

Method.  A cross-sectional design with repeated measures of body weights and medical record reviews was adopted. The study was conducted in 2003 in two long-term care facilities for older people with dementia in Taiwan. Fifty-five residents participated in the study.

Results.  Eighteen percent of the residents were under-nourished (body mass index <18·5). There was a trend toward decreasing body mass index over the 3-month study period. Residents with low body mass index tended to need assistance at mealtimes. Nineteen residents, many receiving naso-gastric tube-feeding, experienced adverse health events during the study period. Dependency in eating was the major factor differentiating residents with normal or low body mass index values, and also in distinguishing those who experienced adverse health outcomes.

Conclusion.  Assessment of eating ability, mode of feeding and measurement of body weight can be used by nurses in long-term care settings for early identification of the nutritional status of older people with dementia.