Study: Two training methods help dementia patients relearn eating skills

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An international team of researchers has developed two step-by-step training programs designed to improve the eating skills of patients with dementia, according to a new report.

The two methods significantly improved patients' nutritional assessment scores, and reduced their "difficulty feeding" scores during clinical trials, according to the Taiwanese study. One method, Spaced Retrieval (SR) training, helps dementia patients learn and retain information by having patents recall that information repeatedly over increasing lengths of time. This training improve self-feeding. The other method uses a Montessori-style approach to help dementia patients relearn hand-eye coordination skills related to eating, such as scooping, pouring and squeezing.

Though the results clearly demonstrated that both approaches improve eating skills and decrease the need for feeding assistance from caregivers, the Montessori group tended to need more physical and verbal assistance during meal times than the control group. The full study can be found in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.


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