Roger Watson, Editor
Anyone caring for people with dementia will know how hard mealtimes can be: the noise; movement; and resistance to feeding can all lead to agitation with the result that older people with dementia receive a low food intake with the consequent negative effects of undernutrition. In a study by Begland et al. (2105) titled: 'A qualitative study of professional caregivers' perceptions of processes contributing to mealtime agitation in persons with dementia in nursing home wards and strategies to attain calmness' professional caregivers were interviewed about this phenomenon.
As the authors explain, the aim of the study was to: 'Describe professional caregivers’ perceptions of factors and processes contributing to mealtime agitation and strategies for attaining and maintaining calm mealtimes.' Through the interviews the following factors leading to agitation were identified: lack of social interaction; negative social interaction around the table; too many stimuli.
The authors concluded that: 'When PCs perceived agitation as developing from negative emotional reactions to episodes that were happening during the meal, they are able to take actions to prevent these episodes. This approach is different from an attitude that perceives agitation as solely caused by the dementia disease and thus as something that the staff cannot influence or prevent.' and that 'Head nurses in nursing home wards for persons with dementia should be aware of the need for knowledge about how to conduct positive mealtimes and should ensure that PCs receive adequate support and supervision while participating in mealtimes. Head nurses should communicate to their staff that participating during mealtimes is an essential part of high quality dementia care.'
Bergland, Å., Johansen, H. and Sellevold, G. S. (2015), A qualitative study of professional caregivers' perceptions of processes contributing to mealtime agitation in persons with dementia in nursing home wards and strategies to attain calmness. Nursing Open. doi: 10.1002/nop2.24