Refusing food and drink

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Tory123, Jul 29, 2015.

  1. Tory123

    Tory123 Registered User

    Jul 29, 2015
    Hi my mother in law has refused food and drink for three weeks now. They have tried to spoon feed her but she pushes it away or stores it in her mouth. Today we went to the home and they were shringing food into her mouth. We felt this was force feeding but when I spoke to someone from the care commission they have to because as she has dementia she hasnt the ability to say she doesnt want food. And effectively by not giving it to her we are starving her. I was wondering if anyone else has had this we have a dnr and no medical intervention in place from the gp. She has always been quite certainof what she does want. I just dont know where we stand do we have to against whats shes saying if though its really force feeding. She is bed ridden now very weak and although talks is making little sense, so upsetting.
  2. Spamar

    Spamar Registered User

    Oct 5, 2013
    There is also a problem that some of the fluid may go into the lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia. This is not recommended. It happened to my OH. The doctor who came the next day was very much against it.
    OH died two days after this feeding, although the feed had nothing to do with his death. He was refusing food and drink, so feeding him this way could be said to be assault, I suppose.
  3. nitram

    nitram Registered User

    Apr 6, 2011
    North Manchester
    As Spamar has said syringe feeding can be very dangerous unless done by a skilled person.

    As I have said before a rather blunt question has to be considered - is the person dying because they are not eating, or not eating because they are dying?
  4. LadyA

    LadyA Registered User

    Oct 19, 2009
    I agree with Nitram. I think at this stage, this type of feeding serves no purpose at all. Your mother in law may not have the ability to verbalise that she doesn't want to eat - but I would think that in pushing the food away, she has quite clearly communicated her wishes. If she was gaining comfort from having some food offered, or syringed in, something like yogurt or similar - then comfort feeding a spoonful or two at this stage is one thing. But if your mother in law has refused food/drink for three weeks, quite honestly, it sounds like she is dying and is ready to. Have you talked to her GP about it?
  5. LYN T

    LYN T Registered User

    Aug 30, 2012
    Brixham Devon
    It's been said on this Forum before that if a person pushes food away it is best to accept that the person is trying to take some 'control' over what is happening. If your MIL is refusing food/drink it should be offered BUT if she doesn't want to eat why force her? It serves no purpose so better to leave her in peace. Speak to her GP and get his/her opinion.

    I wish you and your family strength through this difficult time

    Lyn T XX
  6. Tory123

    Tory123 Registered User

    Jul 29, 2015
    Thanks for all replies, we spoke to the home last night they said that they have to be seen to be trying to feed her. They said that if she swallows it then thats good they will continue, if she tries to push away then they will stop. She has given up and I think she is refusing good because she is dying. I just hope that her last days she can go with dignity.
  7. Padraig

    Padraig Registered User

    Dec 10, 2009
    Yes, my late wife refused food whilst she was in hospital, and also when I removed her home from a Nursing Home. Our GP advised I not attempt to force feed her. She was bedridden, less than six stone and had severe pressure sores. We had a team of nurses visit daily and they kept a diary of her condition and recorded that she was dying. That diary I attached to the end of my book. It took me a while to encourage her to eat. For a time I used a syringe, then worked out my own daily menus. Gradually as the months passed there was less requirement for medical help and entries in the log tailed off. Finally the medical staff vanished completely after nine months. Needless to say, her physical health vastly improved. We had a further four years together. There is far too much to cover in a post as to the many reasons why she survived when all the experts though otherwise.

    I've already posted photos on here, showing her deteriorating condition in the Nursing Home and pictures of the vast improvement achieved in our own home with understanding and loving care.
  8. Long-Suffering

    Long-Suffering Registered User

    Jul 6, 2015
    Do you have health and welfare LPA? If so, and your mum signed Option A, you can ask them to stop feeding her if you think it's what she would want.

    They may well be covering themselves legally. There have been stories on the news about CH staff being charged with neglect for "allowing patients to die from malnutrition".

    Best of luck. I feel for you. It's so hard.

  9. trapped77

    trapped77 Registered User

    Jul 30, 2015
    I feel for you. My father died after refusing food and drink for a few days. They tried to put jelly down his throat but he coughed it up, if I remember right. He was in France. I think they get to a point when it is foolish to try to force feed them. This was in France, though. But having said that, they (at the hospital) eventually put a drip up and he died after that. The most you can do is spend time with her and give her hugs. Sorry I can't be of practical help in answering your question but I think it may be academic very shortly anyway. Very sad and difficult time.
  10. LadyA

    LadyA Registered User

    Oct 19, 2009
    As it happens, my husband has just stopped being able to eat. He only takes about half a spoonful and doesn't swallow that. The nursing home talked to me today and asked if I wanted them to offer him occasional spoonfuls for comfort even though he may aspirate some. He is dying, so I told them that if he wants a little taste of something in his mouth , give him an occasional spoonful. If he refuses, don't push him to try. It's the last shred of control he has, whether to eat or not. His illness stole everything else. I won't let it take that one last thing.
  11. garnuft

    garnuft Registered User

    Sep 7, 2012
    My Mam stopped eating but she was still able to drink through a straw, small amounts but I found my mother came back to me more during the dying process, dementia seemed to take a back seat and the dying process was in the foreground.

    Most important, keep the mouth moist even though drinking has stopped, my daughter had a wash with glycerine and swabs, I bathed her mouth every minute.
    With my Mam it was plain water, I nursed her at home but the District Nurse supplied (through prescription) the swabs.
    It was most comforting to Mam for her mouth to be moist.

    Hard times, fluid is more important than food and when dying, protection of the senses most important of all.
    Stay strong, don't be too afraid. What will happen, will happen, you haven't made it so.

    All you can do is be the best you can be. x
  12. Jessbow

    Jessbow Registered User

    She may not have the ability to verbalise her wishes but has the physical means to refuse food ( by pushing it away)

    If it was me, my line would be to express this to them, and that they should offer a spoonful or two of each course ( Main then pudding) and if she refuses/pushes away that's her choice. Please continue to try but respect her right to choose.

    That should cover all their bases. To me, using a syringe suggests they are trying to get something ( pehaps *Anything*) in without enough time/patience and going for the easy option.
  13. submarine

    submarine Registered User

    Apr 5, 2013
    Same is happening with my mother.
    She is refusing most things most of the time. Sometimes she'll have a few spoonfuls of soup or custard which makes my day but water.....NO CHANCE ....EVER.

    it is so upsetting. It is as though I'm witnessing my mother starving to death because of me.

    There seems to be quite a lot of controversial issues around this topic which doesn't exactly help.

    I have no answers but I hope you can take some comfort from knowing that you are not alone. Personally I would hate to see someone pretty much force fed. Even if they do have dementia. They still have their feelings and emotions which should be honoured.

    Fortunately I have Ma at home with me at the moment with a massive care plan which I can oversee. I would imagine your anxiety around this is really high since she is in a home.

    Can you speak with one of the senior people there?. Someone HAS to listen to you eventually....

  14. Tory123

    Tory123 Registered User

    Jul 29, 2015
    I have visited tonight, she has refused all food and fluid completly now for three days, they are no longer using shringes. We have been doing mouthcare to keep her moist. She is in a very bad way tonight she is no longer speaking or responding really I had one point where she turned and smiled such a lovely moment. Her arms, hands and legs are so cold :-(. I am.hoping she will be at peace soon I hate seeing her so thin, and in discomfort.
  15. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    My MIL did this too. It is such a lovely memory in a difficult time. Hang onto it
  16. Izzy

    Izzy Volunteer Moderator

    Aug 31, 2003
    Wishing your mother in law peace. Also wishing you and your family strength.
  17. garnuft

    garnuft Registered User

    Sep 7, 2012
    My Mam was incredibly thin too ( a weight she wanted to be all her life, I told her as she lifted her hips 'Ma, Elizabeth Taylor would have LONGED for your figure. You could slice cheese on them hipbones!) star weight.

    But she still knew me, she still knew EVERYTHING. Again.

    Strength to you as you support your MIL on the second-most important passage of her life.

    It's incredible, YOU'RE's amazing, scary, terrifying and real.

    She's so lucky to have you with her, supporting, loving and keeping her safe until the end. xxx
  18. Flake

    Flake Registered User

    Mar 9, 2015
    My mum is doing this too. Almost 3 weeks now with very little food and a limited amount of fluid. She has had moments of pure clarity and said today that at 82 she has had enough. She is in pain with her back which is getting no better and we are not sure if she had a fall or not as she cannot remember, although she did ask if I was with her when she fell?! A carer came in today and phoned me to say that my Mother was refusing to get out of bed and she thought she had mental health issues - what is dementia then if it is not a mental health issue (as such). She also has lost alot of weight and is sometimes hallucinating. So awful to watch. And there is no answer :(
  19. Blogg

    Blogg Registered User

    Jul 24, 2014
    Thinking of all of you going through this hard stage.
  20. Tory123

    Tory123 Registered User

    Jul 29, 2015
    Hi everyone

    Thank you for all of your support, sadly my MIL died on Friday. I went to see her that morning and managed to say goodbye but she died when we all left. Maybe waiting for us to go. I am glad she is now at peace out of pain but also away from the upset that her Alzheimers/dementia caused. Its a tougth time at the moment I have my ups and downs. It has spurred me on to raise money for research into this awful illness and also to help others.

    Thank you again xx

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