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2 – Unit 15: Understanding and Meeting the Nutritional Requirements of Individuals with Dementia

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1.1 Describe how cognitive, functional and emotional changes associated with dementia can affect eating, drinking and nutrition

Cognitive, functional and emotional changes associated with dementia can significantly affect eating, drinking and nutrition. Cognitive changes may manifest in forgetfulness or confusion that could result in a lack of appetite or an inability to recognise hunger signs. Similarly, forgetting the ability to prepare meals independently will impact what and how much food is consumed.

Functional changes such as difficulty using utensils or reduced coordination may also significantly affect an individual’s dietary intake; if they can no longer use tools like knives and forks, they might be limited as to what type of foods they can manage by themselves without assistance. In addition, decreased dexterity could make them less likely to eat independently, leading them instead toward more liquidised diets which aren’t always nutritionally adequate for the individual’s needs.

Emotional difficulties, including anxiety over meal times due to increased agitation levels, depression brought on by feelings of isolation, and apathy resulting from boredom coupled with reduced sensory stimulation at mealtimes, can all reduce an individual’s enthusiasm for eating and drinking. This may mean that their dietary intake becomes inadequate or unbalanced due to a lack of interest in mealtimes, resulting in poor nutrition and health.

To overcome these difficulties associated with dementia, it is essential to create a positive environment which is tailored around the individual’s needs – making sure that meal times are relaxed and quiet affairs with limited distractions will help them remain focused on the task at hand; including only foods, they like into meals can promote motivation to eat; ensuring enough fluids are consumed as appetite declines over time – this should be particularly monitored during summer months as dehydration symptoms might go unnoticed, and increasing involvement of carers within mealtimes may assist those struggling cognitively or functionally while allowing them some degree of independence.

Other answers in the full document:

  • 1.2 Explain why it may be important for someone with dementia to have their personal and cultural preferences recognised with reference to food and drink
  • 1.3 Explain how other health and emotional problems can affect the nutritional needs of individuals with dementia
  • 1.4 Explain why it is important to include a variety of food and drink in the diet of an individual with dementia
  • 2.1 Explain how a person-centred approach can support an individual with dementia to eat and drink as independently as possible
  • 2.2 Explain how mealtime environments and food presentation can be designed to help an individual with dementia to eat and drink
  • 2.3 Evaluate how mealtime cultures and environments can be a barrier to meeting the nutritional needs of an individual with dementia
  • 3.3 Evaluate how a person-centred approach to meeting the nutritional requirements of an individual with dementia has affected the wellbeing of the individual

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