A Dedicated Nutritional Care Program (NUTRICARE) for Institutionalized Dysphagic Older People Affected by Dementia: A Quasi-experimental Study

A Dedicated Nutritional Care Program (NUTRICARE) for Institutionalized Dysphagic Older People Affected by Dementia: A Quasi-experimental Study

Aims and objectives

To assess the effects of a texture-modified food program for dysphagia on the nutritional, biochemical and functional profile in a cohort of institutionalised older people in Italy.

Background

Dysphagic institutionalised older people, often also affected by dementia, are frequently exposed to malnutrition. Malnutrition in older people has negative effects on mortality, days of hospitalisation, infection, wound healing and risk of pressure injuries. Therefore, it is very important to prevent malnutrition in this frail population.

Design

A pre-post study without a control group.

Methods

The study included 479 dysphagic institutionalised older people from 20 nursing homes. Anthropometrical, biochemical, nutritional and functional parameters were collected retrospectively, 6 months before the study intervention, at time zero and, prospectively for 6 months after implementing the NUTRICARE food programme, for a total of nine evaluations. The NUTRICARE programme includes meals without nutritional supplementation, and personalised levels of density, viscosity, texture and particle size.

Results

The total mean body mass index of our sample passed from 17.88-19.00; body weight averagely improved by 7.19%, as well as their nutritional and biochemical profiles. There was a progressive improvement of total protein and serum albumin values. Nutritional parameters (serum transferrin and lymphocytes) displayed similar changes. Plasma lymphocytes reached normal levels in 98.23% of the sample. Plasma creatinine levels remained steady throughout the study and within the normal range. No side effects were reported.

Conclusion

The NUTRICARE food programme with a adequate proteins, calories, balanced nutritional and bromatological properties, and appropriate texture and palatability significantly improved the nutritional, biochemical and functional profile in a cohort of institutionalised dysphagic older people.

Relevance to clinical practice

The introduction of a balanced nutritional programme, using high-quality natural ingredients, appropriate texture and palatability can significantly improve health and quality of life in dysphagic older people.

Keywords

dementia; dysphagia; institutionalised older people; malnutrition; modified food texture; nutrition.

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