Let’s start by recognising the significance of eating. We all know that food not only keeps us alive, but also pleases us, opens doors to new social and cultural experiences, and may even be an expression of love when you prepare it for someone you care about or consume food that has been prepared for you. We instinctively worry when someone is unable to eat, and it can be challenging to sort through the emotions that come with difficulty eating. One of the most sensitive topics to talk about is food and how someone consumes it or doesn’t.
There are several medical conditions, including severe dementia, that might make it harder for someone to eat properly, and in these situations, there are numerous solutions to think about. For example, modified texture diets, artificial feeding, usually through tubes that pass through the skin of the stomach and into the stomach (called a PEG) or down the nose (a nasogastric tube), or deciding to assist someone to eat exactly what they enjoy.
A Feeding Tube: What Is It?
The choice to implant a PEG tube leads to surgery when a tube is attached to the stomach and emerges from the abdomen. PEG tubes are a form of feeding tube frequently used for people with dementia (and many others without dementia, as well). A liquid nourishment mix is then poured into the tube and stomach after implantation.
The Need for Feeding Tubes
The pros and cons of each choice may change depending on the situation, but there isn’t enough proof that tube feeding is better for people with severe dementia. Uncertainty exists about how tube feeding may impact the degree of discomfort, nutrition, mortality, and survival.
The likelihood that patients who use feeding tubes are more likely to develop pressure ulcers, which may be unpleasant and dangerous and also require an increased amount of care. Overall, it’s getting harder to figure out what the benefits of tube feeding are, and some risks need to be taken into account.
Talking about the need, most people with dementia or late-stage Alzheimer’s have problems swallowing and eating. They could eat less, get weaker, or have pressure sores. Or, food debris could enter their lungs and result in pneumonia.
Families may then be asked if they wish to insert a feeding tube. One of the hardest choices a family has to make is whether or not to use a feeding tube for a person with dementia. However, you frequently do not receive the objective information you require to support your choice.
Naturally, you want to do everything you can for a deteriorating person. However, some families claim that after only a few brief consultations and without being informed of the possible hazards and stress on the elderly person, physicians or medical personnel put pressure on them to use a feeding tube.
Benefits of Tube Feeding in Advanced Dementia
Patients with severe dementia are especially hard to care for because they often can’t do any of their daily tasks and need help from others.
According to research, feeding tubes are not proven to be beneficial for individuals with severe dementia in terms of:
- Guaranteeing appropriate nutrition
- Reducing pressure sores
- Preventing aspiration pneumonia
- Offering comfort
- Enhancing functional status
- Extending life by providing essential nutrients
Why Do Medical Experts Advise Using Feeding Tubes for People with Severe Dementia?
Most medical personnel prioritise the patient’s best interests and take the time to explain therapies and go through their benefits and drawbacks. Unfortunately, some individuals may suggest treatments that aren’t necessarily in the patient’s best interest since they are more concerned with saving time or money.
By being aware of feeding tubes, you can prevent medical providers from pressuring you into choosing without considering your older person’s wants or quality of life. To send the patient to a skilled care facility sooner and save the hospital money, physicians may advise a feeding tube in a hospital setting.
A feeding tube may be suggested at a nursing home since it is easier and quicker for caregivers to tube feed a patient than to meticulously hand feed them. Everyone’s health is different, so your elderly relative may need a feeding tube in some cases.
Understanding that there are always dangers and advantages is crucial. You have the right to inquire about the situation and gather unbiased information before choosing for your older ones. You shouldn’t be pressured into making such a big decision after just a quick 15-minute conversation that emphasises the benefits and skims over the drawbacks. Here are some of the questions answered for you.
Do Tube Feedings Prevent Pneumonia Aspiration?
Even though tube feeding may lessen the risk of food or liquid entering the lungs and leading to pneumonia, this can still happen due to saliva travelling in the incorrect direction. The capacity to swallow and consume is eventually impacted by dementia. Even if a person is getting food through a tube, they can still get aspiration pneumonia.
Do Tube Feedings Enhance Life Quality in Dementia?
Particularly in a facility setting, eating is frequently a communal activity. With tube feeding, those residents are frequently absent when others are eating in the dining room, increasing their risk of social isolation. People who are fed through tubes could also long for the taste and texture of eating or drinking something by mouth.
Some doctors will prescribe “pleasure feeding,” which permits very little oral feeding and drinking. This is normal because they have thought about the person’s quality of life and, even though the person’s ability to swallow may be limited, they and their family feel that taking the chance to eat and drink is worth it.
Associated Risks With Feeding Tubes
- Hospitalization for insertion of a tube
- Yanking the tube out of restlessness
- Infection where the catheter was inserted
- intense urge for oral fluids and meals
Prompt for an Informed Action
Making decisions for someone as they draw closer to death may be quite challenging. Even while you work through the feelings that arise from seeing someone you love diminish, you could feel the pressure of having to respect their desires.
You may feel better at ease during this process if you learn more about the evidence supporting particular options. As usual, you should talk to the doctor before making any choices, given their understanding of the situation and medical history of your loved ones. So, if you need reliable guidance on whether to choose tube feeding for people with severe dementia, you can opt for Lana Life Care.
Lana Life Care is a reliable hospice team that offers home care services for the elderly and people with other chronic conditions. Choose us and stay informed!
When dementia patients quit eating, they soon become undernourished. The introduction of feeding tubes in the hope that it would help prevent the repercussions of malnutrition, which include pressure sores and infections.
To provide the nourishment and water that patients who are unable to eat or drink by mouth need and can’t get by without them, feeding tubes can be helpful and have helped many patients. For example, a stroke patient may need a feeding tube for a short time before getting better and going back to eating normally.