Weight Loss And Undernutrition In Dementia
"Dementia" is a generic term covering degenerative diseases of the brain leading to problems with memory and other cognitive functions. Decreased food intake, eating behavior disturbances, and loss of body weight are significant problems among patients with Alzheimer's dementia (AD) (White et al.). Indeed, it is typically observed that AD patients are at greater risk of weight loss and a worsening in their nutritional status than individuals without cognitive problems. Data collected over time suggest that weight loss precedes the onset or diagnosis of dementia (Barrett-Connor et al.) or occurs in the early stages of the disease (White et al.). While weight loss and undernutrition in this group are believed to have multiple origins, it also appears that resting metabolic rate is no higher in those with AD than in older persons with no cognitive problems (Donaldson et al.). Finally, although a poor dietary environment can have a negative effect on food intake, adequate nutritional status can be maintained even among institutionalized older people as long as patients have a favorable eating environment and appropriate dietary assistance (Shatenstein and Ferland).
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