What happens when your loved one with Alzheimer’s decides not to eat?
This is a very common problem. The real question is, how aggressive should we be in treating our loved one in the late stage of Alzheimer's. Do we authorize medical treatment for our loved one as their minds go away, yet their bodies live on. Alzheimer's patients can not speak for themselves about their care. Some family members argue that intense treatment in late stages of Alzheimer's is inappropriate, even cruel, and the costs are excessively high. For some family members the cost are not an issue, so when their kidneys fail, they get dialysis, and infections are treated with intravenous antibiotics. We want guidance and want to be told what is appropriate.
There is the unspoken concern that if treatment is stopped, we will be judged by family, friends, and church. We need support groups and counseling about the loss of the ability to eat and drink, and to know that now the loved one has entered into the terminal phase of the illness. We should let our loved ones die peacefully. The Alzheimer's Association guidelines on patients in the final stages of the disease say that it is ethically permissible to with hold feeding tubes and that spoon feeding should be continued if needed for comfort.
A lesson that I have learned is to not put off what you can say or do today, because tomorrow may not come. Don’t put off any kindness that you can show today. Share your love with the world! You never know how you may benefit them!
Alzheimer's A Caretakers Journal
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