My mom has a dementia problems and her esophagus due to diverticulitis stop letting her eat normal foods. She never listened to me to stop eating everything she wants and finally what happens she end up in a hospital CCU with aspiration pneumonia. She failed three times a swallow test, so they do put a feeding tube into her. She was very active before and if not her dementia, I will say that putting a feeding tube for her is very beneficial, but I do not know what will happen now as she probably will not understand why they did so and why she can not eat normally anymore. I would not want this for myself but my kids were not allowing me to stop just feeding her. Feel miserable and sorry for her. She was living with is for 15 years but now I do not have any idea how to take her home.
Jane, Thanks for sharing your struggles with us. Your mom has several things going on. The dementia, the swallowing and feeding issues and the stresses of caregiving are challenging.
When a person has swallowing and feeding issues, their body is starting into a decline. The body is shutting down. We are a culture that fears death and take steps to sustain life.
The feeding tube is a life sustaining measure. She will never improve and eat normally again.
People do not understand there are many complications that occur with a feeding tube. Aspiration pneumonia is common.
I have included a pros and cons list on feeding tubes for you to review.
Because your mom also has dementia, she will get to a point where she is not going to remember that she cannot eat or swallow.
I suggest that you ask for a referral to palliative care. Palliative care is a much needed and underutilized resource for those with chronic illness. Many do not realize that palliative care is a bridge to wellness, as well as hospice.
You need support as she declines. Because of her dementia you will need that support. It will help you make the difficult decisions as she declines.
As a dementia care specialist, I have had many dementia patients with feeding tubes. It is a challenge. I hope this article will help you make decisions. There will be a time when you will have to stop the tube feedings. Having palliative care will help you make difficult decisions.
Visit this link for:
-Diane Carbo, RN