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Sitting down to a traditional family meal or listening to soothing music could help those with dementia who are at risk of malnutrition and dehydration

People with dementia can be at a higher risk of malnutrition and dehydration, for a multitude of reasons, including forgetting about meal times and losing the ability to chew and swallow.

However, researchers from the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School have carried out research into what interventions could help reduce the risk of these problems.

Of the 50 different mealtime interventions that they tried on more than 2,200 people with dementia, they found serving family-style meals in a homely environment could help to boost nutrition and fluid intake.


Lead researcher Dr Lee Hooper, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: ‘The risk of dehydration and malnutrition are high in older people, but even higher in those with dementia.

‘Malnutrition is associated with poor quality of life so understanding how to help people eat and drink well is very important in supporting health and quality of life for people with dementia.

‘We wanted to find out what families or carers can do to help people with dementia eat well and drink enough.’

Other successful interventions included playing music, and engaging with multisensory exercise, which they found could all help boost nutrition, hydration and quality of life among people with dementia.

However, Dr Hooper was also keen to point out that until further research is carried out, you shouldn’t rule out one type of activity or intervention over another.

‘It is probably not just what people with dementia eat and drink that is important for their nutritional wellbeing and quality of life – but a holistic mix of where they eat and drink, the atmosphere, physical and social support offered, the understanding of formal care-givers, and levels of physical activity enjoyed.’