Helping people with dementia to eat more regularly improves their physical health and may lower symptoms of depression, a small new study from Taiwan suggests.
The research included 63 dementia patients who were trained to remember proper eating habits and 27 patients who received usual care. The memory training used a method called spaced retrieval, which requires people to recall a piece of information over increasingly longer time intervals. Another memory-training tool involved practicing tasks associated with daily living.
The patients underwent tests for nutrition, body-mass index (a measurement of body fat based on height and weight) and depression before the start of the study and again six months later.
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People who underwent the combination memory training showed improved nutrition and a healthy increase in body-mass index, as well as reduced depression scores, according to the study published online Feb. 28 in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Depression scores declined for patients who got the nutrition training, as well, the researchers said.
Li-Chan Lin, of the National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan, and colleagues said health care professionals may want to consider using this type of approach in dementia patients who have poor nutrition and signs of depression.