[quote="desales09, post:1, topic:239562"]
If a person in their nineties with dementia has been declining in health for some time - vomiting up all given through the mouth until very thin, weak, and looking near death's door, and finally losing the ability to swallow - anybody who knows, correct me if I'm wrong, but artificial administration of food and fluid is still considered "ordinary means" in the Church's moral teaching and should be given UNLESS the patient's body is unable to assimilate nutrients. Right? So what should a caregiver in a facility do if he/she sees that these ordinary means are being withheld in such a case?
We were in a similar situation several years ago with a close elderly relative who was in hospice care in a nursing home.
She was bedridden, her digestive processes had slowed, and it was clear she was slipping away. She had been only semi-conscious for a while, and had been fed through a feeding tube. IV fluids were administered as long as possible until her kidneys and other systems shut down. In other words, nutrition and/or hydration was given to the degree she was able to digest. The hospice personnel were very attuned to her needs, and were aware of our Catholic views on the sanctity of life and ordinary/extraordinary means.
The family member(s) who have the medical proxy for the patient should speak up, and perhaps contact hospice. Does the patient have a "Living Will" that expresses her wishes?
I think that, sadly, many elderly and terminal patients have even hydration withheld, and family members often think this is normal and "humane." Very sad and wrong.