Inadequate nutritional status in patients with Alzheimer’s disease

Anna Łucka, Radosław Magierski

Affiliation and address for correspondence
Aktualn Neurol 2017, 17 (4), p. 190–197
DOI: 10.15557/AN.2017.0021

Apart from the comprehensively described cognitive disorders or neuropsychiatric symptoms, dementia also leads to progressive wasting in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Malnutrition is a problem affecting up to 25% of patients with dementia. As the disease is mainly found in people over 65 years of age, the patients on the one hand experience changes that are characteristic for the senile age in general, whilst on the other, their nutritional status is affected by the degenerative changes in the central nervous system and the clinical symptoms they produce. The nutritional status has been demonstrated to have a significant impact on the progression of the disease and the patients’ prognosis as well as the incidence of comorbidities, frequency of hospitalisations and overall mortality rate. It is, therefore, important to identify the risk at an early stage, and implement modifications facilitating an adequate nutritional status. Proper education of caregivers is of utmost importance in this respect, and it should be implemented from the earliest stage of the disease. Also, an individual approach must be ensured to adequately address the needs and problems of a given patient, as the required interventions vary depending on the severity of the disease and its current symptoms. Many simple modifications aimed at aiding the adequate nutrition of the patients have been outlined to date, including dietary guidelines and environment adjustments during meals. Also, detailed recommendations have been formulated concerning the intake of oral supplements and medical foods, addressing dietary deficiencies and parenteral nutrition. It should also be pointed out that any decisions concerning treatment must be made in an ethical way, accounting for the patient’s individual preferences.

Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, malnutrition, eating behaviour disturbances

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