Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dementia and not eating

As many of you know, my 86-year old mom has advanced dementia and lives in a nursing home. Her condition has steadily worsened over the past few years, and the news these days is not good.

My mother stopped eating a couple weeks ago. She has now stopped drinking water or any other liquids. She is refusing her meds as well. The doctor tells us that not eating and drinking is a sign of late stages dementia. He said the brain essentially “forgets” to tell the stomach it’s hungry or thirsty.

The doctor says it’s only a matter of time for Mom at this point, probably not more than a month. We are looking into hospice treatment for her, so that her pain will be as minimal as possible.

Almost 20 years ago, my mother signed a living will giving specific instructions on how she wanted to be treated (or not treated) in just this type of situation. I witnessed that document and remember thinking that I hoped we would never have to face anything listed on that piece of paper.

Today, I am so grateful to my mother for having the foresight and love for her family to set out exactly what she wanted and did not want, in terms of life-saving measures. Now, we don’t have to guess what her wishes are – her true wishes, made with clear-headed thinking and clarity, almost 20 years ago. It makes the decisions we have to make – as hard as they are - much easier.

It’s been a hard time for me, and I know it’s going to get harder before it gets any easier. I would appreciate your prayers for my mom and my family as we walk through this hard place. And, if I’m out of commission and out of touch for awhile, I hope you’ll understand.

9 comments:

Rosie said...

Sweetie you're in my thoughts and prayers along with your mother and family.

I've been through something similar, with my grandmother... I had to head the family and decesions because my mother wasn't strong enough. It's going to get harder, very hard... but you know that. Be strong and hang in there... and if you need a friend, I know we don't know each other well except for through out blogs - but still if there is anything I can do... email me.

The Incredible Shrinking Family said...

Hugs and prayers. My mother is also dealing with dementia, and is moving into the end stages. My father died of breast cancer 5 years ago, and both took time to write out living wills , and it made things very easy when teh time came for both end stage care and funeral arrangements. It has prompted me to do the same for the benefit of my own son.

Hélène Glehen said...

Patty,
I am very sorry for you and your mother of course.
We know we are not eternal but we would like to face this kind of situation most later possible.
I wish you bon courage.

DAR said...

Oh, Patty! I'm so very sorry! You have been through so much recently with your sister, brother, and now your mother. Not to mention your dear husband's close call last year.

I'm glad you got a chance to spend some time with your mom for the holidays and hope you will get to spend time with her now, too.

I have been and will continue to pray for you to find peace and comfort through this difficult time. My heart really goes out to you, my sweet friend!

Anonymous said...

Dear Patty,

My sister was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's when she was only 50. We managed to keep her at home with 24/7 caregivers until two years ago. We then placed her in a wonderful assisted living facility, and she was reasonably OK until a month ago. She began to hallucinate and became very aggressive. After a month in a psychiatric hospital, she was returned to her "home" on a low dose of Risperdal. She has refused food and liquids for several weeks, so they took her off the anti-psych drug. She still refuses food and water. I pray that God will take her soon.

I'm a newbie to your site, but I'm somewhat relieved to hear that I am not alone.

Susan

Patty said...

Oh Susan, I'm so very sorry. And no, you are not alone -- I think alot of people find themselves in our position. I, too, will pray that your sister can finally be at rest and peace very soon.

Big hugs.

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padma said...

I only wish i had come across this site sooner. My Dad is now unable to eat -he had dysphagia to begin with, but this has now progressed to either only having a few spoonfuls of food per day, or refusing to eat at all. I kept trying to think of ideas as to how I could get him to eat, though the hospital are good in offering him food on a regular basis. At the back of my mind was the thought were they doing everything they could do...I have come to the conclusion that they have done all they can, and the best my brother and I can hope for is a peacful and dignified end for our father. How I feel for anyone in the same position as us. ...

Pocketsized Nic said...

Hi Patty,
My thoughts are with you. I know it has been a while since this post but i have just stumbled across it in my search for some hope and answers. my grandfather is suffering through this same ordeal at the moment and its hard to see. he was a man of such dignity and he's gone to waste pretty much.
thank you for writing this, it has given me a little hope and knowledge that myself and my family are not alone.

 
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