PURPOSE: To describe the feeding dynamics of institutionalized elderly women regarding the clinical aspects of deglutition, cognition, behavioral and environmental factors related to feeding.
METHODS: It was carried out a prospective observational cross-sectional study of the feeding dynamics of 30 elderly women, residents at a long-stay nursing home. Some of the evaluated aspects were recorded by the observers at the time of feeding, and others by the analysis of the videotaped register of their mealtime. Data were descriptively presented and compared to literature findings.
RESULTS: Mean age was 83.7 years. The most prevalent medical diagnoses were dementia and systemic arterial hypertension. Poor oral intake was observed in 73.3% of the subjects, as well as an average time of feeding of 10.1 minutes. Attitudinal alterations were observed in 16.7%, and behavioral alterations, in 40% of the elderly. The subjects showed inappropriate positioning in 46.7% of the meals. Assistance was required by 56,6% of the women: in 70.6% of the cases, it was provided, and in 66.6%, it was judged inadequate. Edentulism was verified in 44.4% of the elderly, of which 46.1% used total denture. Inadequacy of denture adaptation, conservation and hygiene status was predominant (83.4%). The prevalence of swallowing alterations was 23.3%, with predominance of the following alterations: food residue after deglutition, cough during feeding, and vocal alterations after deglutition.
CONCLUSION: Environmental, cognitive and behavioral factors related to feeding were significantly present among the subjects of the study, putting deglutition at risk. Other specific deglutition difficulties were also identified. Managing these difficulties is important, in order to avoid health complications for elderly women.
Keywords: Health of institutionalized elderly; Feeding; Elderly nutrition; Deglutition disorders; Dementia; Aged; Women; Caregivers