Good ambiance: Better quality of life?The effect of meal ambiance on nutritional intake, body weight and quality of life in elderly people with dementia.
Malnutrition is a common problem in psychogeriatric wards. A multitude of factors can affect the nutritional status of people with dementia. A good meal ambiance appears to have a positive impact on the nutritional status and quality of life in the elderly without dementia. Whether this is also true for the elderly with dementia, is unclear. In this study the effect of improved meal ambiance on nutritional status, body weight and quality of life was examined.
The intervention consisted of improving the meal ambiance in a psychogeriatric ward. Prior to the intervention, the risk of malnutrition was investigated by means of the SNAQRC among the participants (n=24). Two weeks before and four weeks after the start of the intervention, dietary intake (in grams) was measured during the hot meal, and the body weight of the participants was obtained. Quality of life was measured before and after the intervention at a sample of 5 participants, using the DS-DAT.
Of the participants (22 women, 2 men) 33% had an increased risk, 29% were medium at risk and 38% had a low risk of malnutrition. Nutritional intake during the post intervention measurement was 12.5% higher than at baseline (p=0.02). Body weight had not changed after the intervention (p=0.75). As an indicator of possible effects on quality of life, slight differences were observed in the behaviour of the residents, especially in the facial expressions.
Improving the meal ambiance in the psychogeriatric ward appeared to have a positive effect on the nutritional intake of elderly people with dementia. Because of the potential effect on nutritional status and quality of life on the long term, further research into the intervention in elderly patients with dementia is recommended.
Keywords: Meals, ambiance, psychogeriatric, dementia, elderly, quality of life, nutritional status