Dementia, Feeding, and Nutrition: Strategies for Nonrofessional Caregivers of Persons with Dementia

Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Department or Program Chair

Ruth Ramsey, EdD, OTR/L

Thesis Advisor

Bonnie Napier-Tibere, EdD, OTR/L

Second Advisor

Stephen Leonard, MOT, OTR/L


People with dementia have changes in eating habits which affect their nutritional status and quality of life along with the well-being of their primary caregivers. The purpose of this research was to gather data related to maladaptive feeding behaviors exhibited by people with dementia and strategies used by nonprofessional caregivers to manage these eating problems. The participants were 10 nonprofessional caregivers of people with dementia. Data was collected through surveys and in-depth interviews. The findings indicate that the most common maladaptive feeding behaviors identified by the caregivers were: being easily distracted, poor coordination, eating slowly, not using utensils or using wrong utensils, and refusing food. The most common strategies used were: chopping or pureeing food, using a soft diet, verbal encouragement and reminders, supervision during meals, engaging in conversation during meals, using supplements, enticing with sweets and dessert, manually feeding the person, using a bib, and physical prompting.

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