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How long will my mother last like this?


Registered User
Jun 7, 2012
My mother is in the late stages of dementia and has in the last 3 weeks been confined to bed, she lost her speech about 3 weeks ago but in the last 4 days had been talking again although it's very jumbled, today she has been laughing and having banter with us, it's very strange.

She has been eating hardly anything for the last 3 weeks and has lost a tremendous amount of weight, she is refusing food and drink, some of the carers have been forcing her to drink by pouring it down her throat with a beaker with a spout, the main carer at the nursing home has put a stop to this as she says my mother has a right to refuse and she shouldn't have the liquid poured into her as she may choke so she has said it has to be through a straw and if she refuses then so be it.

My question is how long can my mother last like this?


Registered User
Aug 22, 2009
I am sorry to hear that your mother is at that stage. I am horrified that some carers have tried to force liquid on her. I truly believe it is a decision that people do make if they have had enough and to try to force things is morally wrong.

Your question "how long?" is one I asked last year. It really does depend on whether she is taking in any food or drink at all. My mum went about a month without food and around a week without really taking in any liquids.

I do believe that there was some choice in it - she was struggling to swallow but I think she could have carried on for another few months. I tried to ask her - I said "you do know what's going to happen if you don't eat or drink, don't you?" I couldn't bring myself to spell it out more than that. She seemed to move her head slightly as a nod. The carers offered lunch and we offered chocolate but she turned her head away slightly.

It's time to be as strong as you can - do come back and talk to us about it as several of us have experienced it and we can hopefully support you a little when you need it.


Registered User
Aug 24, 2013
Hi Carys
There's no real answer, my mother yo-yo'ed in health for ages, had Christmas dinner with me and the kids who'd come to visit and died on new year's eve. less than a week later. It's just a day by day thing when you get to the stage you describe sometime all you can do is be there and be ready because whenever it happens be it a week, month or a year away it's strange mixture of sorrow and relief.


Registered User
Jan 14, 2010
East Kent
Hello Carys. I am so sorry to hear about your Mum, this is such a difficult time for you
As to how long, no one can really say.
Some people do seem rally for a short while just before , I have experienced this in my own family
I am also glad that the head carer stopped them forcing your Mother to drink against her will , I know they they probably meant well , offering your Mum a drink is all they should do
Their are special mouth swabs/sponges available to keep a persons mouth comfy and moist , the GP or head Nurse/carer should know about them


Registered User
Apr 17, 2015
My mum, who's 81 was recently transferred from a mental health unit to a care home in my area a few weeks ago. I think the first thing that comes to mind is, 'How long can someone live like this?' Before my mum was sectioned I'd seen her at Christmas. I knew things weren't right, but I put this down to the high dose of steriods she'd been put on because of a diagnosis of arteritis. At Christmas she was sort of a less pleasant version of herself, if you see what I mean. There was no hint that there was a mental health problem. Unfortunately, gradually lowering the steriod dose didn't make a difference. There was no time to put a PoA in place, so for the meantime my husband and I are covering fees, bills, etc, with an input by the local authority. I struggle to associate this mum with the mum I had up 'til last year. In the mental health unit in the hospital she was terrified, convinced that people were planning to kill her and her family. I'm so pleased that she's out of there, but everytime we've visited her in the care home she's been asleep, so I've not had the chance to talk to her since she was moved. I said to my husband that I hoped the home aren't 'sedating' her because of her health problems. He doesn't think that's the case, and I have to say that I've been very happy with the fact that my mum's in that particular home. Most of the time you get the impression that the staff treat the residents as if they were a member of their own family going through the same situation. The thought of someone 'forcing' a person to drink by shoving a beaker in their mouth when they don't want it is horrifying. I know dehydration is a serious problem in the elderly, but I strongly believe that anybody with a mental health problem should have a degree of control over their own lives.


Registered User
Jun 7, 2012
Thank you so much everyone for your replies and sharing your own experiences with me, my mum is still pretty much the same. I didn't see her yesterday but I telephoned to see how she was and was told that she is still not eating but had taken 500ml of fluid. She has only been taking a teaspoon at a time (except like I said previously more when the nurses were forcing the beaker on her) so this tells me they were doing it again if she has taken that much.

The head carer said they weren't to do that so I take it she probably wasn't on duty yesterday, I feel so angry about it but on the other hand I feel if I say something then they'll think I am trying to expedite her death and am callous for doing it. The truth is I hate seeing her lying there like a cabbage. I love her very much but I wish she was at peace.