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  #1  
Old Jun 18, '09, 9:43 am
marypar marypar is offline
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Default Alzheimer's and feeding tube

Does anyone here have experience with this? My mom has alzheimer's and I know the time will come for me to make a decision about a feeding tube. On the one hand, I contacted the American Life League and they responded:

"When a person's body can no longer assimilate (absorb) food and fluids, they no longer nourish or hydrate the patient and discontinuing them will not cause the patient to die of starvation or dehydration. The patient will die of natural causes. In such a case, discontinuing their administration is both medically indicated and morally appropriate.

People who are in the last few hours or days of life sometimes do not benefit form food and fluids, but many do benefit. Alzheimer's patients are no different. A person dies as his/her organs fail (stop functioning), usually one or more at a time. What will benefit an individual patient depends on her condition. All patients are individuals with their own needs and problems. Medical decisions must be made based on what will benefit the patient."

My issue is that all the alzheimer's message boards are against tube feeding for alzheimer's. My girlfirend's mom got a feeding tube and she is lingering on for about two years. Is this what we are morally obligated to do? Please let me have any advice.

How can you know if they are assimilating food unless you insert the tube? then can it be removed????

thanks all.

Barring kidney failure or other problem with assimilation- why NOT try a feeding tube and see if it helps? And, of course, a feeding tube does not necessarily need to be implanted right away. Nasogastric tubes or Dobhoff tubes (very small and comfortable) can be placed. Furthermore, such tubes can make giving medications much easier."[/u][/b]
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  #2  
Old Jun 18, '09, 12:00 pm
livi livi is offline
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Default Re: Alzheimer's and feeding tube

maybe you should talk to your priest and see what he says. I really don't have experience here, but I'll pray for you.
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  #3  
Old Jun 18, '09, 12:01 pm
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dashso40 dashso40 is offline
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Default Re: Alzheimer's and feeding tube

We are not allowed to give medical advice..but..I will tell you what I did with my grandmother who had dementia and eventually hardly ate anything....I actually knew before she lost her faculties that she did not want a tube feed..she told me exactly that..so when the time came to that decision, I knew what to do...We still tried to feed her and we got some of those nutritional drinks in her....but eventually she died..in her sleep ...peacefully..
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  #4  
Old Jun 18, '09, 6:20 pm
gardenswithkids gardenswithkids is offline
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Default Re: Alzheimer's and feeding tube

Quote:
Originally Posted by marypar View Post
Does anyone here have experience with this? My mom has alzheimer's and I know the time will come for me to make a decision about a feeding tube....
As already mentioned, we cannot give medical advice, but we can talk about morality.

While it certainly is not moral to deny people food and water, if an elderly person doesn't want to eat, I don't think it's alway moral to force-feed them either. My personal preference is to feed people--and I think that is the moral thing to do under most situations, but sometimes for various reasons the feedings may not be well tolerated. I have experience with a person who was physically incapable of eating due to illness (not confused and refusing to eat but physically unable to eat). That person lived several more years on a feeding tube. I also have experience with an older, confused relative who pulled out a feeding tube. That happens sometimes, and hospital and nursing staff sometimes deal with persons who pull out feeding tubes by restraining the person's hands. These are difficult situations and sometimes very difficult decisions with no clear-cut answers.

Jesus tells us to feed the hungry. If your mom is hungry, try to feed her by whatever means. If she's not hungry and not eating, discuss the situation with her doctors as well as a good priest or religious/moral advisor to determine the best course of action under the specific circumstances.

My prayers for you as you help care for your mother. I know how difficult it is to watch parents grow old and get sick. While these are difficult times, they are also great times that can produce much good spiritual fruit. Again, my prayers for you and your mother.
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  #5  
Old Jun 19, '09, 4:43 pm
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Mark77 Mark77 is offline
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Default Re: Alzheimer's and feeding tube

The National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) has some guidance on end of life issues here: (http://www.ncbcenter.org/eol.asp).

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus Nunc Et In Hora Mortis Nostrae!
( Holy Mary, Pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our deaths!)

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  #6  
Old Jun 20, '09, 10:07 pm
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Kristine1957 Kristine1957 is offline
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Arrow Re: Alzheimer's and feeding tube

Personally I think the best thing to do is leave this in God's hands,

I work with Alzheimer patients every day and they go through a period of ups and downs all the time. However, once they start to decline they usually stop eating and drinking "on thier own". You can try to encourage them but don't force it. Thats the " natural" way of your body starting to shut down. Putting feeding tubes and other artifical means are just prolonging the enevitable. Alzheimer patients dont get better. I have personally seen the peace and comfort in a person when they are allowed to die in peace. It is like being born you are now going through another part of your journey and what God has in store for you.
I have also seen the painful way of patients dieing when we keep forcing them to eat and drink and you can see it on thier face before and after they have passed away. Its just not peaceful nor what I think God intended.

I believe the Catholic church also says that we should not use artifical means unless there is a chance of recovery. Or, if the artifical means have already been in place then to leave it be.
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  #7  
Old Jun 20, '09, 11:04 pm
Mike Dye Mike Dye is offline
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Default Re: Alzheimer's and feeding tube

I have just lived through what you are now experiencing. It is really tough. I was the Contact person for my Mom's health. She was in a nursing home for 11 years. In the last year she really declined and refused to eat some of the time and would get better and really want to eat. Well I did decide for the feeding tube and believe it or not she liked having the tube. She didn't want to go yet but just didn't want to eat. I cannot give anyone any advise about their specific situation but here is what I now feel.
Last week my Mom died and was buried. I can look back with a clear conscience knowing full well that I did everything possible for her. My sister and I visited her everyday for the last 6 months when she was really sick, as well as weekly visits before as well as daily phone calls.
Ultimately it is up to you, I decided to go all out for my moms life and am so glad I did.
Peace be with you at this difficult time, believe me I know hard your life is right now.
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  #8  
Old Jun 21, '09, 4:40 am
St Francis St Francis is offline
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Default Re: Alzheimer's and feeding tube

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kristine1957 View Post
I believe the Catholic church also says that we should not use artifical means unless there is a chance of recovery. Or, if the artifical means have already been in place then to leave it be.
This is not what the Church teaches. What the Church teaches is that ordinary means must always be used if they do not cause harm to the patient, but extraordinary means may be refused or discontinued if the burden is grave. The burden includes financial.

So, say a person is in a long-term coma and on a ventilator. The ventilator may be discontinued; if however the person is only on a feeding tube, then that may not be discontinued.

The upshot of what the Church teaches is that the patient needs to die of the medical problem or treatment, not as a side-effect of lack of care. Terri Schiavo, for example, died of dehydration and starvation, not from her injuries. Conversely, if the level of pain-killer needed to keep a dying person out of pain rises to the level where the dosage can be fatal, that would be all right.
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  #9  
Old Jun 21, '09, 4:50 am
St Francis St Francis is offline
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Default Re: Alzheimer's and feeding tube

Quote:
Originally Posted by marypar View Post
Does anyone here have experience with this? My mom has alzheimer's and I know the time will come for me to make a decision about a feeding tube. On the one hand, I contacted the American Life League and they responded:

"When a person's body can no longer assimilate (absorb) food and fluids, they no longer nourish or hydrate the patient and discontinuing them will not cause the patient to die of starvation or dehydration. The patient will die of natural causes. In such a case, discontinuing their administration is both medically indicated and morally appropriate.

People who are in the last few hours or days of life sometimes do not benefit form food and fluids, but many do benefit. Alzheimer's patients are no different. A person dies as his/her organs fail (stop functioning), usually one or more at a time. What will benefit an individual patient depends on her condition. All patients are individuals with their own needs and problems. Medical decisions must be made based on what will benefit the patient."

My issue is that all the alzheimer's message boards are against tube feeding for alzheimer's. My girlfirend's mom got a feeding tube and she is lingering on for about two years. Is this what we are morally obligated to do? Please let me have any advice.
You are obligated to feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty. If the patient benefits from food and water, they need to be given the food and water; it is only when they no longer benefit that they can be stopped.

From what you have said, it seems that your friend's mother is still benefitting from the food she is receiving; she is not "lingering on," she is living. In these situations, without the feeding tube patients would get no nourishment and would die of starvation (or faster from dehydration if liquids were stopped). People need to die of what's killing them or the medical care of what's killing them, not from something else or lack of care.

Quote:
How can you know if they are assimilating food unless you insert the tube? then can it be removed????
The tube can only be removed when the patient's body no longer can assimilate the nourishment, which is when the organs start shutting down and stop working. The doctors will be able to tell you whether she can benefit from a feeding tube as well as when she will no longer benefit.

My sympathies on this illness of your mother's.
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  #10  
Old Jun 21, '09, 11:54 am
gardenswithkids gardenswithkids is offline
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Default Re: Alzheimer's and feeding tube

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Dye View Post
...Last week my Mom died and was buried. ...
My condolences on the recent loss of your mother.

Eternal rest grant unto her oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace, amen.
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  #11  
Old Jun 22, '09, 6:29 pm
ProVobis ProVobis is offline
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Default Re: Alzheimer's and feeding tube

My dying 90+ yr old father had been on IV fluids for a few weeks, but when they discovered he developed kidney failure, (he also had pneumonia) the doctor had to drastically slow down the rate as his heart was literally drowning in the fluids. He died the next day. This was a tough call but be aware that the IV's aren't always the most prolonging-of-life mechanisms.
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  #12  
Old Jun 22, '09, 7:45 pm
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centurionguard centurionguard is offline
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Default Re: Alzheimer's and feeding tube

Quote:
Originally Posted by St Francis View Post
This is not what the Church teaches. What the Church teaches is that ordinary means must always be used if they do not cause harm to the patient, but extraordinary means may be refused or discontinued if the burden is grave. The burden includes financial.

So, say a person is in a long-term coma and on a ventilator. The ventilator may be discontinued; if however the person is only on a feeding tube, then that may not be discontinued.

The upshot of what the Church teaches is that the patient needs to die of the medical problem or treatment, not as a side-effect of lack of care. Terri Schiavo, for example, died of dehydration and starvation, not from her injuries. Conversely, if the level of pain-killer needed to keep a dying person out of pain rises to the level where the dosage can be fatal, that would be all right.
Quote:
The upshot of what the Church teaches is that the patient needs to die of the medical problem or treatment, not as a side-effect of lack of care
I agree totally with what you say here. My father at the age of 63 in 1996 became tragically injured as result of falling from a rickety ladder in our parish bell tower.
Fully paralyzed from head to toe and and unable to breath on his own due to the severity of spinal injuries; he survived for eleven years with his full intellectual faculties intact in our home on full ventilator and the tender loving care of special nurses, respiratory technicians, and the love of our family. Though he was able to eat lightly at times, most times he was fed Jevity by stomach feeding tube. My father passed away at the age of 74, Christmas 2007.

My youngest brother Dan age 41 is terminally ill with A.L.S. ("Lou Gehrig's Disease").
Married to a wonderful wife and two children his body strength is withering away losing all electrical impulses to his muscles and limbs. Eventually; he will die when the disease paralyzes his lungs or heart, but before that he will need to be ventilated and fed by a stomach tube. But until his final breath he will survive on prayers and the love of his family. Who ever said Life was easy ? We all need our Beloved God in our lives.
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  #13  
Old Jun 22, '09, 8:29 pm
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Kristine1957 Kristine1957 is offline
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Smile Re: Alzheimer's and feeding tube

Quote:
Originally Posted by St Francis View Post
This is not what the Church teaches. What the Church teaches is that ordinary means must always be used if they do not cause harm to the patient, but extraordinary means may be refused or discontinued if the burden is grave. The burden includes financial.

Your right I just didn't say it very well.


So, say a person is in a long-term coma and on a ventilator. The ventilator may be discontinued; if however the person is only on a feeding tube, then that may not be discontinued.

I totally agree with you

The upshot of what the Church teaches is that the patient needs to die of the medical problem or treatment, not as a side-effect of lack of care. Terri Schiavo, for example, died of dehydration and starvation, not from her injuries. Conversely, if the level of pain-killer needed to keep a dying person out of pain rises to the level where the dosage can be fatal, that would be all right.
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  #14  
Old Jun 23, '09, 7:09 am
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Default Re: Alzheimer's and feeding tube

(((((Mary))))).....you asked if anyone had experience with this- I was the fulltime caregiver for my (((mother))) during her journey with Alzheimers for ten years...I kept her with me and we were both blessed for the experience...it is a difficult journey but know your (((mom))) is highly blessed for carrying this burden- Alzheimers is not just about the individual- it is about the people around them and how they step up to each situation-how they get over their own ego when they are no longer recognized and about learning to love the person for who they are-not for how we want them to be-their spirit is fully in tact-it is only their bodies and minds that are regressing... when an alzheimers patient stops eating- it is because they get to a point that they don't remember what a spoon or fork or straw is and how to use them-and if they won't wear their dentures any longer it's because they see no reason to put those uncomfortable plastic things in their mouths-it's not because they aren't hungry or thirsty... actually alzheimers patients will eat and eat and eat if you keep putting food infront of them - you just have to make it interesting- and you have to eat with them and help them by example- keep them involved trying to help themselves-I can't tell you how many times my mother had to relearn how to use utensils-the brain is an amazing thing- it works very hard to re-route messages if it is kept stimulated... big piece kid puzzles etc- movies that are appropriate to whatever age she believes she is at the time will all make this journey she is on easier for both of you....my mother loved dancing(she was in a wheelchair for the last half of her journey)- so old Fred Astaire movies and musicals were wonderful- also the Wizard of Oz and White Christmas were favorites- she watched them over and over again and each time they brought smiles to her face.... in the beginning of the disease it started out she was my mother and I was taking care of her- then I became her mother and ultimately I was the person taking care of her until her momma was coming to get her-that's how she processed who I was in her life for each stage of her life-and when she passed she was a very happy 3 year old little girl with few words, but a very loving heart.....meet each new challenge head on-it is just a problem if you make it one... nutrition shakes wiil help with the calorie deficits and vitamins and minerals she needs- I'm not talking about the grocery store variety- I'm talking about the health food store weight gainers that you mix with ice cream and milk in a blender... if she is having trouble with chewing and swallowing meat etc- a food processer and a little mayonnaise makes that much easier and she still gets the tastes she loves... my mother loved cereal-so letting it soften up in milk worked for her- eggs are good(brain food) add a little cheese and shaved ham for taste... blueberry muffins, pie, cakes, and especially different flavors of ice cream- her world needs to become sensory for her to respond...and when all is said and done...and it becomes painfully evident that you are running a race you can't win- you do what God impressed on my heart throughout the journey....live in the moment..... that's the lesson of Alzheimers- cherish each moment and make the most of it- and when it's her time- she will just go because her "momma" will be there with angels to take her home.... that's God's schedule- in the meantime you do everything you can to make her time here comfortable- you won't need a feeding tube if you keep it interesting for her and surround her with patience and love so she trusts and loves back- it's a primordial need to suckle- if she has to be fed through a baby bottle-do it......My thoughts and prayers are with you and your mom....(((((hugs)))))) God Bless
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Old Jun 23, '09, 7:40 am
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Default Re: Alzheimer's and feeding tube

((((((Mike Dye)))))))).. Bless your heart for reaching out to help at this difficult time for you....I'm sorry for the loss of your dear mom....((((hugs)))))
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