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Should you feed dementia patients who cannot feed themselves?

Status: Open    Sep 24, 2015 - 08:50 AM


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Expert Answers

Sep 29, 2015 - 11:23 AM

You have a good caregiver answer. Now a lawyer answer: YES. Not feeding someone could be abuse and/or neglect of an icompetent person and is a crime for which you could be arrested. Please get advice from a physician or hospice. Does the patient have an advance directive, living will or health care proxy? If so, follow those directions as to a feeding tube. If not you may need to be appointed guardian of the person and ask for the right to make determinations as to provided hydration and nutrition as well as being kept alive by mechanical means.


Sep 27, 2015 - 08:34 AM

Short answer yes....
Long answer...
Yes if they will still eat. Puree foods so that the food is easier to eat. Use a thickener for thin liquids like water, juice, coffee, tea or broth.
Often if I put food on the spoon for my husband he will lift the spoon up to the mouth, other times he will put food on the spoon then not know what to do. I will lift the spoon to his mouth and he will eat.
However the number of meals may decrease as the person sleeps longer. Earlier in the day meals will probably be better as the person is stronger and "more with it". so plan on a larger meal early on or lots of nutritious snacks between naps.
When your loved one refuses food PLEASE do not do a feeding tube. As the body begins to shut down the digestive system does as well so food is less necessary but they may drink. So make the drinks nutritious. As the body continues to shut down the need for liquids will also wane. With no food or fluids the body will continue to shut down but know the person will not feel hunger or thirst nor will they be uncomfortable due to the lack of food or fluids. Introducing food and fluids to a body that does not process it will lead to problems.
Discuss concerns with your Doctor or contact Hospice to determine if your loved one qualifies for Hospice and they will give you all the help, knowledge and understanding they possibly can.
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