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Checklist could identify malnutrition in people living with dementia

Wednesday 27 February 2019

The Patients Association have developed a Nutrition Checklist. NDAA member Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition explain how it could help identify early signs of malnutrition in people living with Dementia. They have produced information leaflets with Carers UK that offer advice in these situations with one focussed on people with dementia eating well and the other concentrating on carers.

Patients Association Nutrition ChecklistThe Patients Association Nutrition Checklist was launched on December 2018 to help identify the potential risk of malnutrition in older people living in the community.  Developed in collaboration with several health, social care and voluntary sector providers including Bournemouth University, the Malnutrition Pathway (Managing Adult Malnutrition in the Community), and Wessex Academic Health Science Network (Wessex AHSN), the checklist is a simple tool that helps healthcare staff and patients identify the potential risk of undernutrition and offers signposting to information and sources of help to those likely to be at risk. www.patients-association.org.uk/patients-association-nutrition-checklist-toolkit.

Whilst not aimed at any specific patient group, the Patients Association Nutrition Checklist could be a valuable tool to help identify early signs of malnutrition in people living with Dementia.

Patients, carers and healthcare professionals will be able to use the Patients Association Nutrition Checklist to highlight early identification of risk and be signposted to advice on maintaining a healthy weight.  Health care professionals will be able to identify which patients require a more in-depth discussion about their weight, eating and drinking and help support their health and well-being early and timely manner.

We know that many people with dementia experience a change in their relationship with food, eating and drinking, and as a result are more susceptible dehydration and weight loss.  As dementia progresses, behavioral, emotional and physical changes which occur can make eating and drinking even more difficult.

Carers UK and Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition have jointly produced nutritional leaflets, including Eating Well with Dementia, www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/health/nutrition/dementia-and-nutrition, and The Importance of Eating Well for Carers to better support carers and those living with Dementia, www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/health/nutrition/eating-well.

Eating Well with Dementia covers many areas experienced by people living with dementia from early stages when perhaps taste changes or food refusal can occur, and in later stages when difficulty with chewing and swallowing can make eating and drinking even more difficult.  The top tips section discusses how to manage these changes as well as how to access Health Care Professionals (HCP’s) at the right time for further support.