30% of nursing home residents with dementia are undernourished, new global report states

People with dementia commonly are undernourished, and long-term care providers should take steps to evaluate these residents’ eating habits and maximize nutrition, according to a new report from Alzheimer’s Disease International.

A team commissioned by ADI and Compass Group analyzed existing research to produce the 88-page report, released Tuesday.

“Undernutrition” is the most common dietary problem related to dementia, according to the report. This refers to insufficient intake of calories, protein or other nutrients. It affects up to 30% of residents in long-term care facilities, and that number likely is higher in developing countries with high poverty rates and food insecurity, the investigators found.

“A key finding in this report is that while weight loss is a common problem for people with dementia, undernutrition can and should be avoided,” the authors wrote.

Oral nutritional supplements have been successful in making residents with dementia stabilize or even increase their weight, the researchers noted. They also emphasized the importance of staff training and enhancing the mealtime environment in long-term care facilities.

Other recommendations included introducing nutritional standards of care specifically for those with dementia, and a more “comprehensive” workforce development program for long-term care.

Click here to access the complete document.