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Two-fifths of care home residents with dementia are underweight, study shows

Findings from researchers at Bournemouth University show wide variations in the food and fluid intake of people with dementia living in a care home. 

A study into nutrition for people dementia in care homes has shown up to 40% are underweight. 

The study, at an unnamed Dorset care home, revealed daily food intake ranging from 700 to 3,000 kcal per day for residents with dementia.

Two-fifths of participants in the study, funded by the Burdett Trust for Nursing, were classified as having an underweight body mass index. 

Care home staff such as nurses face a number of complex challenges in providing nutrition and hydration for people with dementia, according to lead researcher Jane Murphy. 

Fluid intake fluctuated between 372 ml and 2,025 ml per day, with some people not meeting the recommended daily fluid intake of 1,500ml per day.

The amount of time spent in sedentary activity ranged from six hours to 23.7 hours. 

Dr Murphy said: ‘People may need much longer to eat due to poor coordination or becoming tired more easily, while others may be losing their appetites or face difficulties with chewing and swallowing.  

‘As dementia progresses, many people become less able to sense their thirst, meaning that they may be unaware they are dehydrated.’

A Burdett Trust for Nursing spokesperson said the findings showed staff need more support and it is working with the researchers on training resources for care home staff. 

 

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