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6th World Nursing and Healthcare Conference

London, UK

Ingrid Hanssen

Ingrid Hanssen

Lovisenberg Diaconal University College, Norway

Title: Moments of joy and delight: The meaning of traditional food in intercultural dementia care
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Biography: Ingrid Hanssen


Traditional food strengthens the feelings of belonging, identity and heritage, which help institutionalised ethnic minority patients with dementia to hold on to and reinforce their cultural identity and quality of life. Taste is more cultural than physiological. Dietary habits are established early and life and may be difficult to change. Being served unfamiliar dishes may lead to disappointment and a feeling of being betrayed and unloved. A qualitative design were used where in-depth interviews were conducted with family members and nurses experienced in dementia care in South Africa and among ethnic Norwegians and the Sami in Norway. The study shows that traditional foods created a feeling of belonging and joy. Familiar tastes and smells awoke pleasant memories in patients and boosted their sense of wellbeing, identity and belonging, even producing words in those who usually did not speak. The cultural significance of food for feeling contentment and social and physical wellbeing is discussed. Besides helping to avoid undernutrition, being served traditional dishes may be very important to reminiscence, joy, thriving, and quality of life. Conclusion: In persons with dementia, dishes remembered from their childhood may help maintain and strengthen cultural identity, create joy and increase patients’ feeling of belonging, being respected and cared for. Traditional food furthermore improves patients’ appetite, nutritional intake and quality of life. To serve traditional meals in nursing homes demands extra planning and resources, traditional knowledge, creativity and knowledge of patients’ personal tastes.

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