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The effect of nutritional intervention in elderly subjects residing in group-living for the demented


Objectives: We studied the nutritional status and the effects of nutritional intervention on body weight, cognition and activities of daily life (ADL)-function in demented individuals.

Design: Controlled non-randomised study.

Setting: Group-living for demented elderly (GLD), ie community assisted housing.

Subjects and interventions: Twenty-two residents living in one of two units (GLD-I), received oral liquid supplements (1720 kJ/410 kcal/day) and the personnel of the GLD-I were given nutritional education. Fourteen residents in the other unit (GLD-C) served as controls. After 6 months 21 (83 (4) y, 81% women) and 12 (85 (4) y, 100% women) of the participants, respectively, were re-examined according to body mass index (BMI, kg/m2), cognitive function (Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE, 0–30 p) and Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDR) and the Katz' ADL index.

Results: Body mass index (BMI) ≤20 was found in 19% of the participants and 44% had BMI≤23. BMI correlated with MMSE (r=0.43, P<0.01). The weight of the residents in the intervention group increased by 3.4 (3) kg (P=0.001) at follow-up, whereas the weight remained unchanged in the control group. The cognitive function was low at the start in both groups, ie MMSE9 and no apparent positive effect of the nutritional intervention was seen. In addition, the ADL functions appeared to deteriorate in both groups.

Conclusions: Being underweight was common among demented elderly in group-living and was related to low cognitive capacity. Five months of oral supplementation, along with education of personnel, was followed by a weight gain. In this study the nutritional treatment did not affect the rate of decline in cognitive function or Katz' ADL index.

Sponsorship: Supported by grants from the Swedish National Board of Health and Social Welfare. Semper Foods AB provided the liquid supplements.

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The work was carried out in co-operation with the Skärholmen and Brännkyrka District Council. We thank Mrs Sonia Mattsson, Mrs Eeva Eriksson, Mrs Marianne Popovski, Mrs Eira Granström, Mrs. Maj-Lis Styrwolt and Mr. Göran Henriksson for their committed involvement in the study.

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Correspondence to G Faxén-Irving.

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Faxén-Irving, G., Andrén-Olsson, B., af Geijerstam, A. et al. The effect of nutritional intervention in elderly subjects residing in group-living for the demented. Eur J Clin Nutr 56, 221–227 (2002).

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  • aged
  • dementia
  • housing for the elderly
  • nutritional status
  • oral supplements

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