(HealthDay News) – For elderly adults with dementia, symptoms of depression can be improved through nutritional improvement interventions, according to a study published online Feb. 28 in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Hua-Shan Wu, PhD, RN, from Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan, and Li-Chan Lin, PhD, RN, from National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan tested the effectiveness of a combination of methods to teach eating procedures to elderly adults (mean age, 82.8 years) with dementia. A group of 25 participants received fixed spaced retrieval memory training combined with Montessori-based activities over 24 sessions, through which structured activities relating to daily life were sequentially and repetitively practiced. The same intervention was delivered to 38 participants in an individualized group, which made adjustments for each participant’s learning response. A routine care group included 27 participants. At the pre-test, posttest, and at one, three, and six months of follow-up, body mass index was recorded and participants were scored according to the Chinese version of the Mini-Nutritional Assessment and Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia.

The researchers found that, over time, the Mini-Nutritional Assessment scores and body mass index of the fixed and individualized groups increased significantly. As a result of the improvement in the Mini-Nutritional Assessment scores arising from the individualized intervention, the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia scores were significantly reduced.

“Individualized spaced retrieval combined with Montessori-based activities produced nutritional improvements that could moderate depressive symptoms in residents with dementia,” write the authors.

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