(Apologies in advance if this has been asked already – I searched the forums, but didn’t see this question addressed.)
My mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and her condition is continuing to worsen. The progression of this disease is such that at some point in the future, she will most likely no longer be able to swallow. After researching the topic, I understand that in general, it is not morally permissible to refuse to provide a feeding tube. However, the National Catholic Bioethics Center also says the following:
“Patients who suffer from dementia often do not benefit from the provision of food and water by artificial means, but each case must be judged on its own merits.”
Can someone tell me what kinds of questions I need to ask her doctor to determine if she would benefit from a feeding tube? I know that if she were in her right mind, she would strenuously object to anything that would artificially prolong her life, including a feeding tube. However, it’s obviously wrong to cause her to die of starvation. At what point in a case like this is the patient considered to have begun the death process?
If anyone has been through this with a family member, I’d be grateful for any advice you can give me!