Understanding factors affecting optimal nutrition and hydration for people living in specialised dementia care units : a qualitative study of caregivers' perceptions : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
Background: Worldwide, 35.6 million people have dementia. The current aging world
population means prevalence of dementia is expected to almost double every 20
years. Weight loss, undernutrition and dehydration are common in people with
dementia especially among those who reside in specialised dementia care units
(SDCUs). There are currently no foodservice guidelines specifically for SDCUs in New
Aim: To understand factors affecting optimal nutrition and hydration for individuals
living in SDCUs. Objectives: To explore the perceptions of caregivers regarding factors
influencing intake of food and fluids, and to provide a range of potential
recommendations for foodservice providers.
Methods: Qualitative descriptive study, using semi-structured interviews with 11
caregivers at 2 SDCUs. Data were analysed using a general inductive approach.
Findings: Environmental factors (relating to the surroundings of the dining
environment, the social aspects to dining, and the need for and provision of support
with mealtime activities), and individual factors (appetite, food appeal, and cognitive
and functional abilities) affect food and fluid intake in people with dementia living in
Conclusion: Factors affecting the nutrition and hydration status of people living in
SDCUs are complex and inter-related. Organisations providing specialised dementia
care, their staff, and foodservice providers can take a number of steps to ensure
optimal nutrition and hydration for the people they care for.