Friday, April 1, 2011

‘A True Art’: Strategies for Feeding Patients with Dementia-Registered Nursing Blog – Info for Nurses

Feeding difficulties in people with dementia are common, but the way such difficulties manifest can vary widely, and there is no single, one-size-fits-all solution. Nurse researchers Chia-Chi Chang and Beverly L. Roberts open their April CE article, “Strategies for Feeding Patients with Dementia,” with some disturbing statistics that make clear the scope of the problem:

People with dementia constitute roughly 25% of hospital patients ages 65 and older and 47% of nursing home residents. And more than half of them lose some ability to feed themselves, which puts them at high risk for inadequate food intake and malnutrition. Patients who are unable to eat independently must rely on caregivers to assist them . . . Unfortunately, caregivers may be unable to identify the various types of feeding problems that accompany dementia or unaware of the feeding practices required to address them.

In an earlier literature review published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, Chang and Roberts evaluated three tools used to assess feeding difficulties in people with dementia, then created a conceptual model depicting such difficulties, contributing factors, and outcomes. Now, in this CE article, the authors take their work a step further. They describe a range of assessment and intervention practices, matched to specific feeding difficulties and observed behaviors, that caregivers can try. For example:

  • if a patient refuses or displays an aversion toward food, as evidenced by pushing the feeder or the food away, spitting out food, or refusing to open her or his mouth,
  • then strategies might include feeding the patient at another time, seeking help from another nurse or nursing assistant, offering verbal encouragement, sitting down and making eye contact with the patient, and offering familiar foods.

Click on the "via" link for the rest of the article.

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