Institutionalized dementia patients who received a tailored educational program on good eating habits were less likely to show symptoms of depression 6 months later, results of a Taiwanese study indicated.
Mean scores on the Chinese version of the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia declined 0.73 points among patients assigned to a individualized program, whereas a control group receiving usual care showed an average increase of 0.79 points, according to Li-Chan Lin, PhD, RN, of National Yang-Ming University in Taipei, Taiwan, and Hua-Shan Wu, PhD, RN, of Shan Medical University in Taichung, Taiwan.
“The improvement in nutritional status may have led to reduced fatigue and increased vitality,” they wrote. “Once the participants perceived the improvements in their health, pessimism, the sense of multiple illnesses, hopelessness, or even worthlessness seldom emerged.”
Multiple aspects of proper nutrition are often compromised in dementia. As Lin and Wu explained, “identifying foods, transferring foods, chewing, and swallowing” become progressively difficult for patients with cognitive deficits. Moreover, several previous studies have linked poor nutritional status to depression, in otherwise healthy adults as well as in those with dementia.