Can mum survice without drinking


Registered User
Jan 13, 2008
Had a teribly upsetting meeting with mums Dr and manager of the care home yesterday.
They tell me mum is in the final stages of her dementia and her refusing to eat or drink is one of the symptoms
They were very nice and kind but basically gave me 3 options
Take her to hopsital. wait in A&E for few hours and she would be put on a drip to hydrate her, she would feel better for a few days then the whole thing would need to be repeated - or -
Have her assessed to go to an EMI unit (she is residental at the moment) but there are no EMI places in her care home and she would have to be moved which would be very upsetting for her.And there would be no guarentees she would improve just they would have higher staff ratio - or -
Keep her where she is and the staff would do their best to get her to eat and drink, but she would slowly fade away
What on Earth do I do?
Has anyone else been in this position?
How long can she possibly survive, it has taken me over 1 hour to get her to drink 20 ml water?
Appreciate anyones help or advice


Registered User
May 28, 2010
Hello Watneys!
Such an upsetting and difficult situation: my heart goes out to you. My mum's still at home; says she eats (know from the shopping this isn't the case) and drinks (minimal tea bags on show) and i know the huge distress this causes to us folks who enjoy our food, look forward to a good meal and can't get to grips with this whole scenario, particularly knowing how important it is for good nutrition.
I find Mum eats more when she is with people - still a minimal amount, but even though she won't admit it, i'm sure it's the social interaction which helps. If i'm with her on my own it doesn't work because, i think, she feels she's being watched, but if others are there and chatting it's almost as if the pressure is off and she can relax- eating is not then a lonely monitored experience. I live alone and understand this: i always eat more and enjoy food when i'm with others - alone i pick at things.
I'm not with Mum 24/7 (far from it: another story), but the eating situation for her is becoming critical: as, it seems, with you and your mum. I know this is of no practical help, but as we appear to be experiencing exactly the same situation, maybe we could keep in touch to support each other and share tips/hair tearing-out moments???
Please keep in touch: i would really appreciate it!


Registered User
Mar 17, 2010
I know

I am going through the same thing with mum at the minute.

The bottom line is what is the quality of life? My mother had none.

What does the future hold if she goes to hospital.She is rehydrated and she declines further.The end stage is awful as they end up trapped on the bedin a twilight world unable to do anything until they get caught by pneumonia or a UTI.Is that a better way to go?Unable to walk and talk and doubly incontinent.

Watching some one die from starvation and dehydration is scary and sad.We are told that she feels no pain but she is agitated asking for mum.She drinks sips of water which are not enough to sustain her.Her skin can now be squeezed and slowly unpuckers.Eventually the blood will protect her vital organs,she will go into a coma and die.Pain can be managed on a morphine pump.

Many believe that to be hydrated at death causes less pain and discomfort.There are less secretions pooling in the throat and less incontinence,likelihood of pressure sores.

Get expert advice,maybe speak to the Alzheimer Society.


Registered User
Nov 16, 2007
East Midlands
Hello watneys,

You're really between a rock and a hard place and I feel for you.

I've never been in your situation, and no-one can tell you what to do.

There is an AS Factsheet about Late Stage Dementia which may be of help to you..

beena and sharina..I hope this is of some help to you too.

Love xx


Registered User
Mar 16, 2010
London & Oxford

Hello Watneys,

My cousin is slightly behind your mother"s stage.

All food is pureed and now as spoonfeeding is no longer possible, we use a syringe to squirt the food into my cousin's mouth for her to swallow according to her own speed and ability. We use the syringe for all drinks and meals and even medicine (mixed with water). We are able to get through 10 ml per three squirts. Time consuming, but you can aim well and swallowing is easier. Ribena instead of water can be more palatable, soup, meat etc. Sometimes, stroking the throat very gently stimulates swallowing reflex.

Gradually all resistence decreases but hydration can be maintained.

We use a salivation spray to encourage salivation, such as Saliveze, available from Boots. It assists in self-production of saliva. Because the mouth, and especially the tongue are moist, it is easier to drink/eat after sleeping with an open mouth.

It is going to get worse by a natural decrease with muscles wasting and a lot of weight loss. Gentle stroking, or if possible, light massage can reduce pain and increase natural circulation.
All I can is wish you strength, courage and get as much sleep as possible because you will possibly be in for a longhaul last few weeks/days.

Thinking of you.


Registered User
Jan 13, 2008
Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply
I rang the Care Home and they managed to get mum to drink 1/2 glass Coke, she has never drank coke in her life!!!
But Im just so pleased if she drinks anything.
They said she was all tucked up in bed but that was 8pm, which means she will have the next 12 hours with no fluids!

Thanks GiGi I read the fact sheet and I can relate to many of the symptons they mention.

Matina I will go to Boots tommorow and get the Salavese might help

My thoughts and prayers are with you both Sharina and Beena
I keep hoping this period wont last long but then I beat myself up and should be thankfull for every day I still have mum with mum
Even if she doesnt realise who I am sometimes

Take care all of you

Be in touch soon

jackie place

Registered User
Aug 4, 2009
eccles manchester
CAn Mum serve without drinking

Hi everyone I seem to be in the same boat as you all are my Husband has stopped eating and drinking he is in hospital at teh moment due to be very weak and dehydrated. I am not sure if this is the final stages as no one has told me anything. Its just that he does not want to eat or makes the excuse that after two small mouthfuls of food he is full I visited him tonite and he ate the following Soup 2 more spoonfuls. veg curry 2 more mouthfuls and a trifle three spoonfuls which is not enough to feed a rabbit never mind a adult. The doctors and nurses are keeping an eye on him his blood pressure is still low ( but they have managed to get it up abit yesterday when he was admitted it was only 65 over 58 which is very low. What can I do to make him eat and drink plenty I am so worried the team that we have are very good he has also loss weight about 14lbs in 8 weeks which is snot good. he also has a kidney which is not working well abit low so the doctor told me ( I am not sure what this means as do not fully understand it all) I do not seem to be coping well with my husband illnest and after reading the above more confused than I was before. He also said tonite that he thought that he was in a hotel and wanted to go upstairs to bed when in fact we were in the hospital and he was lieing on the bed is this what they say is the final stags as no one has every spoken to me only said that he has deteriorated very fast. I am so frightened and not sure what to do. Any advise I would appreciate it he also wants to go to Switzerland for the injection as he has had enough of the illness and does not want to live which is not doing me any good as I am also down and want to help him as best I can and make sure that life is good for him.


Registered User
Feb 28, 2005
west mids
Hi Watneys,sorry to hear about your predicament.

I lost my mum on May 16th.She was in the final stsges of AZ and suffered a brain haemhorhge following a fall.

She had little swallowing reflex on admission to hospital and weighed only 40kgs. I fought to get mum on an end of life care package which meant stopping artificial feeding and IV fluids.She still managed to survive for two weeks following the decision however she was kept comfortable with a morphine syringe driver and 2 hourly mouth care.She passed peacefully.I think regardless of what the text books say about how long one can live without fluids grit , determination and stubborness have to be considered and mum had loads bless her!

Love and best wishes Ally x

Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
NW England
Hiya Watneys ... so sorry you are in this position. Hesitating to post in some ways .... because I know which option I would go for (with glorious benefit of hindsight and all that) ....
But can I suggest a fourth option?

Could you discuss a hospital admission (I am cringing as I suggest this) ... into the ‘acute assessment’ ward/emergency assessment unit (not sure they are called the same thing in each hospital) but it’s like the ‘one down’ from A&E. Admission can be pre-arranged by the referring doctor ..... so there is no ‘waiting about’ .... and staff can be forewarned of your mother’s circumstances.

Just an idea that to re-hydrate at this point might just buy some ‘breathing space’ whilst you consider what would be your mother’s wishes ... whether the upset of even a brief hospitalisation would be worth it is another matter ....

So sorry, it’s an awful time in so many ways and being expected to make decisions under such stress and distress ...... my heart goes out to you,

Love, Karen

Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
NW England
Jackie and others – sorry _ I seemed to have overlooked your pain ... these decisions are horrendous aren’t they? Those who ‘know me’ here from ages-ago posts know my mother’s end of life care was complicated by cancer – and a rapid decline in her dementia over a matter of months which took my breath away. I hesitate on posting about ‘end of life issues’ because 1) I perhaps have not managed my own feelings and beliefs around it and 2) still carry a lot of anger around about mum’s care in hospital and 3) these issues are naturally emotive on lots of different levels.

My heart just goes out to everyone facing these circumstances and the angst of making decisions in someone else’s best interests when it crucifies you to have to do it .....:(

Karen, x


Registered User
Jan 14, 2010
East Kent
I AM SO SORRY you are going through this dreadful time,

I know that in the not to distant future we may go through this with mum, I pray to god mum is spared this,

luckily we have the Hospice involved with mum,atm just for respite care but for the future, pallitive care.

maybe you could consider a hospice.

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
There is a probability all of us will have to endure, in time, what is being endured by all of you now.
I can only offer my heartfelt sympathy and hope the ones you care for so deeply can be kept as comfortable and pain free as possible.