Foodwork and meals in everyday life among persons with dementia and their partners

Abstract: 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.