Objective: To evaluate the association of oral food intake with survival in very old demented nursing home patients.
Design: A prospective cohort study.
Setting: A nursing home in northern Italy.
Measurements: Anthropometric and laboratory nutritional indicators and nutrient intake were assessed in 33 demented (age 85.7 +/- 5.7 years) and 25 nondemented (age 84.9 +/- 5.7 years) patients. Mortality data were collected over a 28-month follow-up period. Association of survival with dementia was estimated by Kaplan-Meyer analysis and multivariate Cox proportional hazard models.
Results: Nutrient intake and nutritional status were good compared with data in the literature and were similar in demented and nondemented patients, except for smaller triceps skinfold thickness in the demented. The cumulative annual death rate was 0.23 deaths per subject per year, similar in the demented (0.23) and the nondemented (0.22). Unadjusted survival by Kaplan-Meyer analysis was similar in the two groups, and correction for-age, gender, cognition, triceps skinfold thickness, and number of drugs in a Cox model did not alter the relationship.
Conclusions: Dementia developing in very old age is not necessarily associated with malnutrition and decreased life expectancy.