How long can someone survive not eating/drinking?

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Abby Carter, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. Abby Carter

    Abby Carter Registered User

    Oct 18, 2004
    I just wondered if anyone can help out with some advice here. My mum's Alzheimers corresponds with what seems to be final stages. She had a fall four weeks ago, an emergency hip replacement op, and has hardly eaten or drunk a thing since. She's down to 6 stone and we really feel we're losing her, that she's decided she doesn't want to recover. She's in and out of sleep, only awake for a few mins at a time, and not very alert when she is.

    She's still bed-bound for the most part, with a drip and catheter which she keeps pulling out. But the hospital want to discharge her, even though they recognise her condition means it's virtually impossible to rehabilitate her.

    My brothers and sisters and I all think she hasn't long to go, but I have no idea how long a person can survive in this condition without eating or drinking. Does anyone have any idea?

  2. Kriss

    Kriss Registered User

    May 20, 2004
    Hello Abby

    so sad to hear your Mum is so poorly. If she isn't drinking I guess thats why she has the drip, are they suggesting she comes home and therefore doesn't need the drip or are they maybe expecting her to slip away peacefully?

    I gather people can survive weeks without food but rapidly decline without fluids. Maybe you need to sit down with the consultant and ask them some very straight questions.

    If she comes home then I'm sure you should get some nursing support but make sure its all in place before you agree anything. Whether your Mum is at home or in hospital for all your sakes try for at least one of you to be with her if you can. The greatest comfort we had when my Dad died was knowing we were there with Mum holding his hand and whispering gently to him.

    You could be approaching the final stretch but you never know you may have some way to go yet. I don't suppose the medics will be totally committal but if you read between the lines of what they maybe don't say you might get an idea of the likely outcome is going to be.

  3. susan

    susan Registered User

    Aug 18, 2003
    east sussex
    Dear Abby
    I can only say how sorry i am that your mum is so poorly, but other than that i really can not say any more than Kriss and that it is time to talk to the consultant and get some serious answers - they are the ones who can give you the answers.
    Thinking of you love Sue
  4. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    near London
    Hello Abby

    so sorry to hear your story.

    My only thought is that there might be a hospice nearby that could help, as hospitals are not really geared to this sort of situation.
  5. Jude

    Jude Registered User

    Dear Abbey,

    Do get some specialist advice asap before the situation goes too far. Thinking of you.

  6. Abby Carter

    Abby Carter Registered User

    Oct 18, 2004
    Thanks very much for your replies and support, we're trying to find out today/tomorrow what exactly the hospital are 'saying' and can take it from there.

  7. Jude

    Jude Registered User

    Dear Abby,

    Any luck so far?

  8. alix

    alix Registered User

    Jun 23, 2004
    Abby, I'm so sorry to hear that your mum isn't doing too well. I hope the hospital have managed to give you some more information about how well they expect her to respond to care.

    Just a thought - if your mum really is in the final stages, I would recommend that you speak to the palliative care team at the hospital. They should be able to talk you through what they expect to happen, and discuss what treatment options are open to you - be they interventions, like the drip, or pain relief.
  9. Leah

    Leah Registered User

    Oct 22, 2004
    Hi Abby,
    I have been watching this thread with great interest, have you had any reply from the hospital yet ?
    My Husband is in the final stages and is having great difficulty eating and drinking now, we have had all kinds of supplements thickeners etc. but he is continuing to loose weight at an alarming rate.
    The Community Nurses have talked about PEG Feeding for several weeks now and I have read all the information I could find on the web, most concluded it wasn't a very good option for anyone with Alzheimer's.
    Today our GP has actualy talked about it and she is asking the Palliative Care Nurse to come and talk to me. I know every case is different but I will pass on the information I get from her.
    Hope your Mum is as well as she can be.
    Best Regards
  10. Jude

    Jude Registered User

    Dear Leah,

    Great to read your positive post, especially in view of the very worrying situation with your husband. I do hope that the meeting provides a resolution and look forward to hearing more later on.

  11. Chris

    Chris Registered User

    May 20, 2003
    Not eating or drinking

    Hello all

    Today I discovered my Mum has not been eating or drinking for a couple of days - it was such a shock as last itme I visited she was a bit brighter than usual.

    I'll leave all the - why didnt they contact me before & why wasnt I told the dr was coming today - to a later date.

    Right now I'm concentrating on Mum. The home is wonderful in its caring & nursing of Mum - and their decision for Mum to stay with them & not move to hospital just to be on a drip - is I think the right one. Mum has had dementia for at least 13 or 14 years . nuff said I think.

    suppose I'm in shock really - its gone on such a long time - I almost thought it would go on for ever - my brain says different of course but at times like this logic goes out the window.

    I just need to be sure we are doing the best for her now that she is not swallowing - the resaons I dont think anyone knows - one camp says people give up - but another camp says that part of the brain that controls swallowing becomes damaged.

    What do we do for the best when someone cant swallow any more?

    So sorry to be depressing - those of you in earlier stages of all this - ignore this - as Mum always said - "Dont cross your bridges till you reach them" & "no use crying - you just gotta make the best of it " & then she'd give her lovely little giggle that was so infectious.

    Wish I had half her happy disposition, whatever life threw at her.

  12. City Claire

    City Claire Registered User

    Nov 1, 2004
    Dear Chris

    You do sound like you have some of your Mum's disposition, being able to share such treasured snippets of your's Mum's humour at such a difficult time. My Mum (carer) and Dad (with vascular dementia) always amaze me in their strength, they both have so much to cope with but are so brave.

    My Dad, who is in hosp. pending us finding a nursing home, has stopped eating properly (the drinking seems to go up and down, but seems to be OK at present) it is very worrying - but obviously not as hard as your situation yet.

    Good luck with getting through this, your Mum seems to have someone very caring in her corner.

    All best wishes

  13. Leah

    Leah Registered User

    Oct 22, 2004
    Hello Everyone,

    First of all Abby, did you get an answer?

    In our case the answer was not very long; my husband passed away on the 30th of October. they decided not to PEG feed as his general health had become too low to withstand the procedure. He developed Aspiration Pneumonia and died within a few days .

    I have been thinking of you all with this problem it has to be the most horrendous phase. I cared for him at home so watched him suffer through every stage. Fortunately not everyone gets to that point, but he was fairly young and initially had a very strong heart and lungs. He went through this illness in less than 4 years, in fact he was still working full time 4 years ago although he was starting to display some loss of confidence and decided to take early retirement.

    Sorry I hope I haven't depressed everyone.
  14. Kriss

    Kriss Registered User

    May 20, 2004
    Hi Leah

    I don't think you will depress anyone. Despite the sadness of losing a loved one and the great void that is left having "cared" through such a dreadful period of your life we all recognise that there is no other end and when it comes it brings a release for everyone particularly the AD sufferer.

    Be brave (again, still, once more) and hold him close in your heart. Nothing and no one can take him from that part of you - whether it be death or AD.

  15. Leah

    Leah Registered User

    Oct 22, 2004
  16. Sheila

    Sheila Registered User

    Oct 23, 2003
    West Sussex
    Dear Leah, so very sorry to hear of the death of your husband, my thoughts are with you. Love She. XX
  17. Nutty Nan

    Nutty Nan Registered User

    Nov 2, 2003
    Dear Leah,
    You have been to hell and back - kindest wishes for continued strength. My thoughts are with you.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.