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Eating dysfunction accompanying deterioration of Alzheimer's disease

Ayako Edahiro, D.D.S., Ph.D.

Researcher (Promoting Independence of the Elderly)

Elderly people with dementia fail to practice proper oral health, with many suffering from dental caries, periodontal disease, and other issues. In addition, they have dietary intake problems associated with chewing and swallowing disability. It is important to maintain oral function, dentition and chewing ability to fun their live till the last time. It is necessary for dental treatment to be received even if the elderly people is living with dementia.
On the other hand, self-eating is a last function of people with dementia. However the eating dysfunction is caused by deterioration of dementia. The eating dysfunction is caused by the impairment of executive function, attention disorder, disorientation, apraxia and buccofacial apraxia related with deterioration of dementia. It causes malnutrition, and raises a risk of frailty and mortality rate. However, its details are unrecognized.

In our study, we examined the eating dysfunction and nutrition states in elderly people with Alzheimer's disease (AD) on the basis of deterioration of dementia. Their basic activity of daily life was decrease by deterioration of dementia showing S-shaped curve. Their self-eating function maintain or down slowly until stage FAST6e, and down rapidly. On the other hands, their chewing and swallowing ability showed very slow drop curve. The nutritional status showed most slow drop line.
The eating function including chewing and swallowing, suddenly decreases in severe dementia. Maintaining eating independence in AD patients may be facilitated by identifying factors that interfere with beginning a meal by providing multidisciplinary care, eliminating environmental factors, and providing assistance that promotes beginning a meal. It is necessary to offer predictive support for elderly patients with AD, after comprehending consideration of functional decline over time and the differences in the cause of dementia.