First of all, I’d like to thank everyone for their support and feedback related to Mom’s issues with swallowing. This site provides wonderful opportunities to learn from each other’s experiences as we try to assist our loved ones in dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.
I wanted to report that within 24 hours of the swallow test results, my father, my brother and I had conversations related to the issue of inserting a feeding tube. We came to a consensus that when and if Mom gets to this point, we will not authorize the insertion of a feeding tube. We base our decision on Mom’s adamant feedback to each of us prior to her Alzheimer’s diagnosis that she does not want her life to be extended through this type of procedure; therefore, we will honor her wishes if this time comes. (The reason that I am using the word "if" as opposed to "when" is because we anticipate that Mom’s lung disease will claim her life before her swallowing gets to the point of needing a feeding tube.)
Other families may feel differently on this issue, and I truly respect your decisions if you want to consider authorizing the insertion of a feeding tube. However, I would strongly encourage you to look at the medical and legal ramifications of undertaking this procedure in your state or nation. For instance, several friends who have caregiving knowledge have shared with me that in Texas, once a feeding tube is inserted, medical personnel will not remove it; thus, the tube may extensively prolong a life that is gone except for the nourishment from the feeding tube.
Each of us is in a different situation in relation to caregiving and our loved one’s final wishes. As we come to each key decision point (such as a feeding tube), please take the time to thoroughly research the pros and cons so that you can make an informed and caring decision.
Dorian Martin writes about various topics for HealthCentral, including Alzheimer’s disease, diet/exercise, menopause and lung cancer. Dorian is a health and caregiving advocate living in College Station, TX. She has a Ph.D. in educational human resource development. Dorian also founded I Start Wondering, which encourages people to embrace a life-long learning approach to aging. She teaches Sheng Zhen Gong, a form of Qigong. Follow Dorian on Twitter at @dorianmartin, Facebook or Instagram at @doriannmartin.