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Factors associated with eating performance for long-term care residents with moderate-to-severe cognitive impairment

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Abstract

Aims

The 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.

Background

Eating is the one of the most basic and easiest activities of daily living to perform. While multilevel factors can be associated with eating performance, the evidence among those with dementia was insufficient.

Design

A secondary analysis of baseline data collected between March and September in 2012 from 199 residents in eight long-term care facilities.

Methods

Eating performance was conceptualized using the single self-care ‘feeding’ item in the Barthel Index and was scored based on four levels of dependence and assistance required. Binary logistic regression was used to examine the adjusted association of specific factors with eating performance.

Results

Almost one-third of the residents needed help with eating. After adjusting the type of facility, number of comorbidities, chair-sitting balance, agitation and depression, compromised eating performance was associated with severe cognitive impairment and low physical capability.

Conclusion

This study supported the association of eating performance with cognitive impairment and physical capability among long-term care residents with moderate-to-severe cognitive impairment. Targeted interventions should be implemented to reduce the impact of cognitive decline on eating performance and promote physical capability to optimize eating performance. Future work need to use validated multiple-item measures for eating performance and test the association of personal and environmental factors with eating performance among a larger heterogeneous group of long-term care residents to enhance understanding of the factors.

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