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Is it possible to safely eat even while being tube fed?

Mom has a feeding tube but still wants to eat, I think for the socialization and the taste. Can she safely eat milkshakes or smoothies without interfering with the tube feedings?
Status: Open    Nov 28, 2014 - 09:11 AM

Senior Health & Nutrition

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Feb 05, 2016 - 08:32 AM

The short answer is, it depends. Patients have feeding tubes placed for a variety of reasons. In older persons with dementia, tube feeding is typically started for malnutrition, even though the evidence for correcting malnutrition in dementia patients is very poor. In most of those situations a little feeding by mouth may be tolerated well and help with quality of life and socialization. But in other cases tube feeding is started because a patient can no longer swallow safely, meaning that they tend to aspirate their food which can lead to pneumonia. In those cases the doctor probably would not endorse feeding the person anything by mouth at all. So the most important step here is to ask your Mom’s physician first what is the main medical reason for the feeding tube, and second whether or not some oral intake by your Mom would be ok. Especially if it’s those foods you mention in your question.


Dec 01, 2014 - 08:16 AM

My grandma was on tube feedings and her doctor allowed her to have smoothies but for insurance purposes had to classify it as "recreational eating". I guess it really depends on why she is on the tube feedings, I would check with her doctor first to make sure she isn't putting herself in danger.
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