PURPOSE: To describe and compare eating difficulties from admission to discharge, with regard to length of stay (LOS) and discharge to institutional care, as well as in relation to gender. METHOD: Patients, aged 65 or above, admitted for stroke rehabilitation, having at least one eating difficulty were observed (n =108) as regards to eating on admission and at discharge. Analysis followed earlier findings in which eating difficulties had been found to have three components, i.e. ingestion, deglutition and energy. RESULTS: Of the components, ingestion difficulties were the most common, followed by low energy. The most common single difficulties were low food consumption, difficulties in manipulating food on the plate and transporting it to the mouth. Ingestion difficulties especially decreased during the rehabilitation period. Women were older and ate less on admission and at discharge than men, improved less than men, and also a higher proportion had a low food intake at the time of discharge if having longer LOS and/or being discharged to institutional care. Patients with longer LOS and those discharged to institutional care had more eating difficulties on admission and were more dependent in activities of daily living (ADL) than those with shorter LOS and those who returned home. LOS was mainly explained by ingestion difficulties on admission and low age. Discharge to institutional care was explained by living alone before admission, ingestion difficulties at discharge, male gender and high age. CONCLUSIONS: Ingestion difficulties on admission indicate a longer in-hospital stay and decrease to a greater extent than other types of eating difficulties. If these difficulties persist at the time of discharge the patients are more likely to need institutional care. It is important to assess and take systematic measures for each of the three variants of eating difficulties, i.e. ingestion, deglutition, and energy, to improve eating abilities. Women in particular need attention with regard to low food intake.
- Other Medical Sciences not elsewhere specified