The aim of this systematic review is to evaluate the role of enteral nutrition in dementia. The prevalence of dementia is predicted to rise worldwide partly due to an aging population. People with dementia may experience both cognitive and physical complications that impact on their nutritional intake. Malnutrition and weight loss in dementia correlates with cognitive decline and the progress of the disease. An intervention for long term eating difficulties is the provision of enteral nutrition through a Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy tube to improve both nutritional parameters and quality of life. Enteral nutrition in dementia has traditionally been discouraged, although further understanding of physical, nutritional and quality of life outcomes are required. The following electronic databases were searched: EBSCO Host, MEDLINE, PubMed, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and Google Scholar for publications from 1st January 2008 and up to and including 1st January 2014. Inclusion criteria included the following outcomes: mortality, aspiration pneumonia, pressure sores, nutritional parameters and quality of life. Each study included separate analysis for patients with a diagnosis of dementia and/or neurological disease. Retrospective and prospective observational studies were included. No differences in mortality were found for patients with dementia, without dementia or other neurological disorders. Risk factors for poor survival included decreased or decreasing serum albumin levels, increasing age or over 80 years and male gender. Evidence regarding pneumonia was limited, although did not impact on mortality. No studies explored pressure sores or quality of life.
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