I noticed that there are no replies to this thread yet, and I'm not surprised why, a horrible thing to think about, isn't it?
But as I know that apparently this will be the next stage Dad is faced with and I have thought about what is going to happen at this time....I will attempt an answer. If you are talking about how long does it take for someone to starve to death, apparently it can take 14-28 days or more.....
Friends in nursing say it would be a horrible way to go, I personally think it would be too, but we all have our own opinion about this and apparently it is acceptable in some countries now and so I reply trying not to come across as too opinionated. As my partner says, you can't judge others until you are in the same situation as them. I don't know enough medically about what machines they use to keep people alive these days to know what kind of fate my father is going to have, I pray that he just passes in his sleep one day, but worry that the alternative that he could be kept alive by machines indefinetly and what kind of a moral dilemma that will put me, me who's always been so anti-euthanasia?
I say now, I am still anti-euthanasia, but I haven't lived it yet, so please anyone who is okay with this issue don't feel judged by me. Just putting an answer out there.
This is a sad time for you - I'm sorry for your grief.
Our dear friend died in just this way earlier this year. He was suffering from cancer and would refuse food when offered it for some weeks before the end. However he was eating just enough to stay alive. When he stopped altogether he was very heavily sedated and was unaware of the effects it was having on his body.
I think when people say it is a "horrible" way to go they are thinking of it as something one faces with one's full faculties, but this is not the case. The heavy sedation and the progress of (whichever) disease make the sufferer unaware of the process. I think it is much harder for those watching.
Our friend died about 10 days after he no longer received food. Some years earlier my grandmother had a major stroke (after other lesser ones) and it took her 9 days. However, when I worked in a hospital we did have a patient who took 23 days to die. It seems to be a very individual matter.
In every case I've been involved with, every effort is made to keep the patient as comfortable as possible. Try to comfort yourself with this thought. My thoughts are with you.