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Using the Environment To Improve Intake for People with Dementia


FEATURE TOPIC: Eating and Nutrition

Physical and social environments are important but often untapped resources that can have a significant impact on the overall goals of food consumption and quality of life. The purpose of this pilot study was to examine the effect of improved lighting and table setting contrast on residents' oral intake and behaviors during meals in both assisted living and long-term care environments serving people with dementia. A 3-day calorie count, foot-candle measures, the Meal Assistance Screening Tool, and the Communication Outcome Measure of Functional Independence were administered at baseline and posttest 4 weeks later. Twenty-five residents with dementia at two long-term care facilities participated in the pilot study. After enhancing the lighting and table setting contrast, there were improvements in both oral intake and functional abilities at both facilities.

Jennifer A. Brush, MA, CCC/SLP, is a Speech-Language Pathologist and is Project Director at the IDEAS Institute in Kirtland, Ohio.

Rebecca A. Meehan, PhD, is a Medical Sociologist and former Executive Director of the IDEAS Institute. She is now Senior Research Scientist at the Myers Research Institute in Beachwood, Ohio.

Margaret P. Calkins, PhD, is Chair of the Board of the IDEAS Institute in Kirtland, Ohio.

This project was funded by the Extendicare Foundation based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as part of the Dementia and the Environment Research Initiative. Special acknowledgment goes to members of our research team: Linda Novak-Eedy, RD, LD, Erin Didde, Molly McGraw, Kate Persavich, Kat Spindler, and Nicole Bowers, who were instrumental in the data collection process. The authors thank Audrey Holland, PhD, and Travis Threats, PhD, for review of the manuscript.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.