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Foodwork and meals in everyday life among persons with dementia and their partners
Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ, Dep. of Nursing Science.
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis was to explore and describe foodwork and meals for older persons with dementia and their partners in ordinary homes.

Descriptive and explorative designs were used in the four papers this thesis is based on. Longitudinal data, including older home-living unlike-sex twins, were analysed using descriptive and analytical statistics. An ethnographic approach was used to describe everyday life for persons with dementia. Interviews with partners and staff were analysed using thematic analysis and qualitative content analysis, respectively.

The results revealed that, among home-living older persons, there is an association between a person’s cognitive ability and nutritional status; i.e. low cognitive ability leads to increased risk of malnutrition. For home-living persons with dementia and their partners, foodwork and meals sometimes changed, meaning that shopping, preparing food and eating as well as social interaction become complicated, which seemed to lead to transitions in roles, routines and relations. There was foodwork that the persons with dementia could perform, and participants expressed a desire that abilities and independence be preserved. However, support was sometimes needed, and it was emphasized that this was based on the person’s needs, wishes and problems.

In conclusion, there is an association between decreased cognitive ability and increased risk of malnutrition. Furthermore, foodwork and meals affected both persons with dementia and their partners. Therefore, early intervention whereby both partners in a couple get individually adjusted support is of importance. Consequently, a person-centred care approach can be useful in arranging the support.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: School of Health Sciences , 2013. , 80 p.
Hälsohögskolans avhandlingsserie, ISSN 1654-3602 ; 45
Keyword [en]
aged, dementia, food, home nursing, independent living, malnutrition, meals
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-21179ISBN: 978-91-85835-44-7OAI: diva2:621673
Public defence
2013-06-14, Forum Humanum, Hälsohögskolan, Jönköping, 13:00
Available from: 2013-05-16 Created: 2013-05-16 Last updated: 2015-10-23Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Who will become malnourished?: A prospective study of factors associated with malnutrition in older persons living at home
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Who will become malnourished?: A prospective study of factors associated with malnutrition in older persons living at home
2009 (English)In: The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, ISSN 1279-7707, Vol. 13, no 10, 855-861 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-9752 (URN)10.1007/s12603-009-0242-3 (DOI)
Available from: 2009-08-06 Created: 2009-08-06 Last updated: 2013-05-16Bibliographically approved
2. Managing mealtimes tasks: told by persons with dementia
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managing mealtimes tasks: told by persons with dementia
2011 (English)In: Journal of Clinical Nursing, ISSN 0962-1067, E-ISSN 1365-2702, Vol. 20, no 17, 2552-2562 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

AIM: To capture the self-description of managing mealtime tasks by persons with dementia.

BACKGROUND: There are several factors that negatively affect food intake in persons with dementia that may increase the risk of developing malnutrition. Difficulties in managing daily activities increase gradually and mealtime tasks like food shopping, cooking and eating often become troublesome. Still, little is known about how persons with dementia themselves experience this issue.

DESIGN: A qualitative study with an ethnographic approach.

METHOD: Ten women and five men aged 69-86 with dementia were interviewed. Interviews were carried out in the informants' own homes and a thematic analysis was performed.

RESULTS: The informants described that they wanted to be independent and that the memory loss was not affecting them to a great extent. Old habits and routines, as well as newly developed strategies, helped them manage mealtime tasks despite the disease. Informants were satisfied with their current situation, even though it sometimes meant that they had changed their way of managing mealtime tasks, for instance receiving meals-on-wheels.

CONCLUSIONS: Persons with dementia seem to be able to manage mealtime tasks and these activities were based on old habits and routines. Independence was highly valued and managing mealtime tasks seems to be one way to appear independent.


It is important for caregivers to understand that persons with dementia might not express difficulties in managing mealtime tasks for fear of losing their independence. It is, therefore, important to create a trustful relationship even before problems arise to be able to support the persons when necessary.

National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-17034 (URN)10.1111/j.1365-2702.2011.03811.x (DOI)21762416 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2012-01-09 Created: 2012-01-09 Last updated: 2013-05-16Bibliographically approved
3. Spouses' experiences of mealtimes with a partner suffering from dementia
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Spouses' experiences of mealtimes with a partner suffering from dementia
2014 (English)In: The journal of aging research & clinical practice, ISSN 2273-421X, Vol. 3, no 4, 237-244 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: As difficulties in performing daily activities occur among persons with dementia, their spouses are also affected. This is also true for mealtimes, yet there is a lack of knowledge and research into how couples manage this situation at home. Objective: The aim of the study was to explore and describe spouses’ experiences of mealtimes in couples in which one partner has dementia. Design, Setting and Participants: Ten spouses were interviewed in their home in respect to their experiences regarding mealtimes when living with a partner diagnosed with dementia. To identify themes across the data set, thematic analysis was conducted. Results: One major theme, Recognizing and managing the range of mealtime change, was identified and showed that depending on where the families were in the dementia process their experienced varied. As progression occurred in the partners disease, routines, responsibilities and relationships were affected within the couple. Strategies the participants used tomanage mealtimes at home regarding these problems were highlighted such as getting support from social services, but also strategies they had learnt by themselves. Conclusion: These results generate an insight into what couples face, and their needs for support. Spouses experiences varied which indicates that it is important that support is based on individual needs. Hence, nursing staff should continuously pay attention to couples mealtime situation. Further it increases staff´s knowledge regarding possible solutions on how to involve persons with dementia in mealtime activities and maintain their nutritional intake.

Dementia, mealtimes, qualitative research, spouses.
National Category
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-25349 (URN)10.14283/jarcp.2014.41 (DOI)
Available from: 2014-12-17 Created: 2014-12-17 Last updated: 2015-10-23Bibliographically approved

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