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Poor mam.


Registered User
Jun 10, 2004
South East Wales, UK.
Hi Everyone,
I always seem to log on when I confront a problem with my mam, hope you don't mind me sharing it. My mam is in the later stages of AD, she was diagnosed at 60yrs young and is now 68. When I went to visit Sunday, she is in long term care in a Hospital, she looked dreadful, I knew something was wrong because she was in bed, normally my mam is up in the chair most days, even though she is at the stage where she doe's not move at all, the only thing arwful thing she is able to do, involuntary most probably is push her hands into her throat , which causes her to cough a lot. I have spoken to the nurses and they say they have never come across this before, has anybody?
But the reason she was in bed was because the staff there were concerned because she had been pale for a few days and had vomited a few times. Could anyone tell me if the ability to swallow dissapears altogether, because it seems to be that mam is having trouble swallowing food, the nurse I spoke to said it could be that the food was bland and did not stimulate the taste senses, I'm not sure about that. Normally I can hold it together until I get home but I had to swallow back the tears a few times that day, seeing my mam suffering so. I worked yesterday, got little sleep, as you could imagine, i was just waiting for the phone to ring to say mam had passed away in her sleep, but when I rung the ward yesterday morning , they had got mam up from bed given her a bath & she had managed to eat some breakfast ! I'm off to see her tomorrow to see how she is, but how long can one person keep surviving on such small amounts of food & fluids? Thanks for listening, Rosie x


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Well, yes, although it may not be this in your mother's case, the ability to swallow can disappear in the later stages of dementia. Has your mother been seen by a speech and language therapist? Odd though it may seem, these are the people that deal with swallowing difficulties, and they can assess your mother to see if she has a swallowing deficeit. Often they will prescribe thickeners for liquids - for some reason when swallowing is impaired it is sometimes more effective for liquids to be less thin.

As to how long someone can survive, it's anyone's guess. While it's not possible to go more than about a week without ANY fluids, a small amount of calories can keep someone alive for quite a long time, particularly if the only energy they are expending is of the autonomic variety (e.g. breathing etc). However, I should probably point out that at some point, and your mother may not be there yet, there is evidence that no matter how many calories you manage to get into someone, if the body stops metabolizing food it simply won't use those calories.

I would, in your position, defintiely push for an assessment by speech and language - I very much doubt that it's the blandness of the food that is the issue.

Best wishes


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