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NUTRITIONAL INTERVENTION OF PATIENTS WITH ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE LIVING AT HOME WITH THEIR SPOUSE: A RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL. BASELINE FINDINGS AND FEASIBILITY

T.M. Puranen, S.K. Jyvakorpi, K.H. Pitkala, U. Eloniemi-Sulkava, M.M. Raivio, M.H. Suominen

J Aging Res Clin Practice 2013;2(2):236-241

Background: Alzheimer patients (AD) and their caregivers are a good target group for nutritional care. AD patients are known to be at risk of malnutrition, and their older caregivers often have multiple diseases and may also have nutritional problems. Purpose: To present the baseline findings of a randomized controlled trial exploring the effectiveness of tailored nutritional treatment among home-dwelling AD patients and their caregivers and the feedback given by spouses regarding the trial. Subjects and methods: Central AD registers in Finland were used to recruit AD patients (n= 99) living at home with their spouses for a randomized controlled trial lasting one year. The intervention group received tailored nutritional advice and care in their homes 4-8 times during the intervention, and the control group received a written guide on nutrition for older people. The participants were asked to give anonymous feedback about the study at the end of the study. Nutrition was assessed with the Mini-Nutritional Assessment (MNA) and three-day food diaries. Results: The mean age of AD patients was 77.4 years (SD 5.6) and the mean age of their spousal caregivers was 75.2 (SD 7.0). The patients’ mean MMSE score was 19.3 (SD 5.6). 44 % of patients and 16 % of caregivers were at risk of malnutrition according to the MNA. At the baseline the mean energy intake was 1714 (SD 477) kcal, protein 73 g (SD 24) and calcium 964 mg (Md 913) per day in AD patients and 1557 kcal (SD 417), 68 g (SD 19) and 886 mg (Md 839) for caregivers. However, the intake levels of nutrients varied widely. Of spousal caregivers, 88 % were satisfied with how the study home visits were organized. Conclusions: We randomized 99 patients with Alzheimer’s disease and 99 aged spouses in a tailored nutrition trial. There was a great heterogeneity in the intake of protein and other nutrients among participants. The feedback from spousal caregivers was positive.

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