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  • Any suggestions?????? Hunger vs. Aspiration

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    Old 12-28-2009, 09:23 AM   #1
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    Any suggestions?????? Hunger vs. Aspiration

    Well I've posted before that my mother in law has advanced dementia. A feeding tube was placed because she couldn't chew and swallow. We shut off the feeding tube when she had a major bout with apiration. It was horrific. We waited for 8-9 days thinking she would peacfully pass away but she actually started saying the word hungry over and over again so one of the family members who is also the lega guardian started the feeding tube up again (without consulting anyone else in the family). Anyway we can understand why she did it because she believed that her mom was starving to death because she kept saying the word hungry. Now that we have the feeding tube going again, we are nervously waiting for the next issue with aspiration or some other problem to pop up. Are there any other options at this point to deal with the "hungry" vs. aspiration issue? Thank you!

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    Old 12-28-2009, 09:49 AM   #2
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    Re: Any suggestions?????? Hunger vs. Aspiration

    Blinky, No options that I know of. Once the aspiration starts, I think it's a sign that the body is starting to not know what to do with food. Sorry, maybe someone else has a better outlook on this one. K

    Old 12-28-2009, 01:12 PM   #3
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    Re: Any suggestions?????? Hunger vs. Aspiration

    I do not have any encouraging answers either. Dementia runs it course and the final sight of attack is the brain stem which controls the function of the body organs. The ability to swallow and separate food path and airway is one of those functions. There is no way to give that back to her. By then the center of the brain (the hypothalamus) that controls hunger is damaged also. It can be stuck on or off. Hunger is no longer a word with meaning. It may be a mimic of what she has heard or just a combination of sounds that you take as the word hunger.

    Both of my parents are much less advance in their dementia and neither of them understand hunger or even thirst. My Mom is never hungry where as my Dad is always hungry even if he has just eaten. If you put something in front of them they may eat it but I have not heard either of them ask for food. I have heard my Dad say he was hungry... minutes after he ate two breakfasts!

    So please do not attach rational thinking to the late stages of dementia!

    I will tell you that it is not abnormal for a healthy person to life for many weeks without food. Water is more important and a week to fourteen days is the maximum you can live without water. Much depends on the person, their physical condition, their metabolism, and their environment. My FIL lasted for 12 days with no food or water even though he was severely weakened by a stroke with left him with no ability to swallow. I did see the same aspiration problems you saw. It is not pretty... so my heart goes out to you. know I keep you all in my thoughts and prayers...

    Love, deb

    Old 12-29-2009, 03:54 AM   #4
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    Re: Any suggestions?????? Hunger vs. Aspiration

    Thank you for your reply. It is very helpful to understand this process.

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