My mom was always a picky eater, so placing her in the nursing home I knew eating would be a problem. She has been in for 6 weeks and now has lost 20 pounds. She has severe alzheimers but still pretty healthy. She is a pacer and is on the move all day. She doesn't sit for any length of time. At the dinner table she started putting her head down, I think because she doesn't want to eat the food. They called me a few days ago, and said she is not wanting to drink much and is getting dehydrated. I have been going daily to try to get her to drink some gatorade and eat. She will take a few sips and probably in 3 hours drank 5 ounces. She won't open her mouth when they try to spoon feed her food or medicine. She just takes tiny bites if at all. Her bun and creatine are high, but potassium and sodium are normal. Her bun and creatine were better today then Wednesday. If levels get to high then asked me if I wanted to give her an iv or possible feeding tube. She paces and so I don't know how she can have an iv unless she is sedated. She is not aspirating food but just seems to have lost her appetite to eat. Dr put her on remeron to try to stimulate appetite. Dr said give it another 2 weeks. In 2 weeks she will be gone. Anyway, she is a fighter and always had a strong will to live, and I know always wanted to keep living. She is not laying in a bed looking at the wall. She paces around, still says I have to pee an then sits on toilet. She still says Im thirsty or Im hungry, then doesn't eat or drink much. Maybe they are just familiar phrases. I don't know if she would try to remove the feeding tube, but if it is covered up with her clothes maybe not, unless it hurts. If she does pull it out then I guess we can say we tried. Because she is still so mobile and talking, I think she may benefit from the feeding tube. Would love for so input on my situation.
With that kind of weight loss, I expect that your mother is eligible for Hospice. Have you considered that?
The feeding tube came up for my husband, twice. I did a little Googling on feeding tubes in the elderly with dementia. This researcher's remark represents a view I came across repeatedly: “We found that there is no research evidence that tube feeding prolongs survival or improves the quality of life for people with advanced dementia,” said lead author Elizabeth Sampson, M.D. “In fact, some studies suggest that tube feeding may have an effect opposite to the desired and actually increase mortality, morbidity and reduce quality of life.”
My husband was opposed to a feeding tube in his situation, and we decided against it, both times. The first time a very young speech therapist was presenting the option to us. She told us all the presumed benefits. (She did not mention that dementia patients often rip the tube out and to prevent this are sometimes restrained.) When we told her the decision was not to have a tube, she left the room to update the chart. When she came back she had tears in her eyes. She said, "I wish my Grandfather had not had a tube!"
My brother recently had a feeding tube, while he was recovering from treatment for throat cancer. He is now eating normally. I think that is exactly the appropriate use of the device -- as a temporary measure while someone improves to the point they can eat again. Or perhaps even as a permanent solution if they have a high quality of life. But when someone is approaching the end of their life anyway, I personally just do not see the value.
But that is a very personal decision. And I do know at least one person who had a tube for her loved one because of her religious beliefs.
I certainly would not criticize you for either decision. You asked for input and I'm just frankly giving you mine.
I do suggest that you do a little research with Google and have the doctor explain exactly how this will work, the benefits and risks as he or she sees them.
This is an extremely tough decision to have to make. My warm regards to you and to your mother, and I wish you peace, whatever you decide.
"She has severe alzheimers but still pretty healthy". Alzheimer's is not healthy, nor is it normal aging. The body systems will begin to shut down one by one which will be hard for you to be a part of. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to let go. Do you really think your mother would want to live like this? I don't think many people would want to live when they are completely dependent on others for their care and survival. A couple of years ago in one of my mom's more lucid moments, understood what is happening to her, she asked me to help her end her life. Think your decisions through carefully and thoughtfully. Some caregivers have a very difficult time letting go, and have a very difficult time after the passing of their loved one. Your decisions will be yours, but they need to be what your Mom would want.
We spent 3 hours in the ER on Tuesday and she was dehydrated, so now I'm trying to get her to drink more water. I told a friend I feel like I'm trying to bail out the Titanic with a teaspoon. I agree with Gladimhere, think through your decisions carefully. We can only do what we can do. Our mom's bodies have their own timetable and I'm not sure we can affect that no matter what we try to do. It's just incredibly hard for us to go through. No doubt about that. No doubt at all.
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