How Long Can A Person With Alzheimers Live With An Iv Vs Feeding Tube ?

Question

Asked by diana

How Long Can A Person With Alzheimers Live With An Iv Vs Feeding Tube ?

My mother is in her last stages of alzheimers. She forgets to swallow. her lungs are infiltrated. When she used to eat she would choke on everything they give her. While she was aware she always told me that she didn't want to be put in any kind of tubes or anything that would delay her death. My mother is in a nursing home they have her with iv and a part of me is having a hard time with this. I was just wondering how long can she live with just iv. She has been with the iv since december 30.

Answer

The issues and concerns regarding artificial nutrition and hydration are very complex with someone diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. As you know, Alzheimer's disease is a progressive illness and unfortunately an individual becomes more and more debilitated over time. Your mother's brain is not able to send the messages anymore to eat properly or swallow, which has resulted in her current condition. Providing her with IV hydration will keep her body going, but sadly cannot repair her brain.

Dignity and quality of life for a person in the end stages of Alzheimer's is essential. Everyone's situation is different and it is helpful to speak to your mother's physician about current treatment and care. It is uncertain how long a person can live with artificial means because there are other factors, such as condition of the heart and other vital organs that play a role in survival.

You mentioned that your mother stated she would not want treatment to extend her life, which is a very important message. If your mother has these wishes in writing, such as through a health care proxy or living will, it would be important to execute these documents. If there is no documentation but she verbally expressed these wishes to you, I encourage you to speak to her physician about options for how to fulfill your mother's wishes. You can advocate for her by speaking to the doctor about alternatives, such as comfort care or hospice. Hospice is a decision that is made in order to keep an individual as comfortable as possible without taking extraordinary measures at the end of life. The positive aspect of hospice is that an individual does not have pain or suffering as they come closer to the end of their life. An individual is able to be kept comfortable and when the time comes they can peacefully pass away.