One older adult says “I am not hungry,” but if this person has a severe cognitive impairment, how can we ensure that this person is physiologically hungry? Often, hunger and thurst levels of people with dementia may not be accurately accessed and care providers are challenged to interpret patients’ needs.
Anterior pituitary gland (i.e., stimulated by Hypothalamus which release thirst related hormones) regulates thirst (https://brainaacn.org/pituitary-hypothalamus/). Both leptin (i.e., a hormone produced by adipose cells) and ghrelin (i.e., produced by the gastrointestinal tract) indicates hunger and satiety level: High leptin and low ghrelin indicate hunger whereas low leptin and high ghrelin indicate satiety (Klok, Jakobsdottir, & Drent, 2007). Implanting a thirst and hunger/satiety level detector to the body to accurately identify hunger and thirst of patients’ with dementia will permit greater monitoring of patients’ nutritional needs on a daily basis.
This challenge is innovative as 1) it can change dynamics of the communications of patients and care providers regarding nutritional needs, 2) it helps to get information on an optimal level of customizing and individualizing care for patients’ drinking/eating requirements.
Implementation strategies include 1) developing a device that is sensitive to hormone changes require engineering technology, 2) linking the body device information to care providers who will attend to patients’ nutritional needs (e.g., Bluetooth), and 3) recalibrating patients’ diet before and after providing nutrition and supporting staffs to monitor appetite.
Limitations of this idea include 1) determining the appropriateness of installing this device to the patents requires consultation with the healthcare professionals, and 2) the device can be economically and financially limiting for families to purchase.
BRAIN (Be Ready for ABPP In Neuropsychology). Retrieved from https://brainaacn.org/pituitary-hypothalamus/
Klok, M. D., Jakobsdottir, S., & Drent, M. L. (2007). The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: a review. Obesity reviews, 8(1), 21-34.