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Managing mealtime tasks: told by persons with dementia

Authors

  • Linda Johansson,

    1. Authors:Linda Johansson, MSc, RN, Doctoral Student, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University; Lennart Christensson, PhD, RNT, Assistant Professor, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University; Birgitta Sidenvall, PhD, RNT, Professor Emerita, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden
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  • Lennart Christensson,

    1. Authors:Linda Johansson, MSc, RN, Doctoral Student, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University; Lennart Christensson, PhD, RNT, Assistant Professor, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University; Birgitta Sidenvall, PhD, RNT, Professor Emerita, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden
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  • Birgitta Sidenvall

    1. Authors:Linda Johansson, MSc, RN, Doctoral Student, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University; Lennart Christensson, PhD, RNT, Assistant Professor, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University; Birgitta Sidenvall, PhD, RNT, Professor Emerita, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden
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Linda Johansson, Doctoral Student, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University, PO Box 1026 Jönköping 55111, Sweden. Telephone: +46 36101253.
E-mail: linda.johansson@hhj.hj.se

Abstract

Aim.  To capture the self-description of managing mealtime tasks by persons with dementia.

Background.  There are several factors that negatively affect food intake in persons with dementia that may increase the risk of developing malnutrition. Difficulties in managing daily activities increase gradually and mealtime tasks like food shopping, cooking and eating often become troublesome. Still, little is known about how persons with dementia themselves experience this issue.

Design.  A qualitative study with an ethnographic approach.

Method.  Ten women and five men aged 69–86 with dementia were interviewed. Interviews were carried out in the informants’ own homes and a thematic analysis was performed.

Results.  The informants described that they wanted to be independent and that the memory loss was not affecting them to a great extent. Old habits and routines, as well as newly developed strategies, helped them manage mealtime tasks despite the disease. Informants were satisfied with their current situation, even though it sometimes meant that they had changed their way of managing mealtime tasks, for instance receiving meals-on-wheels.

Conclusions.  Persons with dementia seem to be able to manage mealtime tasks and these activities were based on old habits and routines. Independence was highly valued and managing mealtime tasks seems to be one way to appear independent.

Relevance to clinical practice.  It is important for caregivers to understand that persons with dementia might not express difficulties in managing mealtime tasks for fear of losing their independence. It is, therefore, important to create a trustful relationship even before problems arise to be able to support the persons when necessary.

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