Dementia: The Journey Ahead
Another difficult decision to make is whether you want to use a feeding tube. The answer to this question may be as easy as referring to your loved one’s advance directives.
Hospice offered to insert a feeding tube into my husband three months before the end of his life. He was in the advanced stage of dementia in an infant state. Did I want to prolong his suffering? Would this procedure enhance his quality of life? The answer was a definite no.
As you make your decision, keep in mind that there is a certain amount of discomfort and risk associated with a feeding tube, which can lead to any of the following complications:
• Discomfort at the time of insertion
• Infection, skin irritation, or bedsores at tube site
• Pneumonia (as many as 50% of patients aspirate stomach contents into their lungs)
• Congestive heart failure caused by excess fluid in the lungs
If you are forced to make this very personal choice, please give it a lot of thought and discuss the pros and cons with other family members as well as your physician before making your decision.
I knew Red was not hungry or thirsty in the final stage of his life, but the act of hand-feeding him brought us even closer together. I know my love, care, and touch meant the world to him.