My father has been on a feeding tube for over 3 years now. Are there a limited number of years you can keep a person on a feeding tube?

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That's a long time to be on a feeding tube. What is his quality of life? Can he communicate his wishes to you?

Please talk with the doctor and ask about this. Consider alternatives if there are any. If he does well and enjoys life to some extent, perhaps he can remain on a feeding tube indefinitely. However, if he is non-communicative, and you know he wouldn't want years of this, you may want to talk to the doctor about different alternatives, such as hospice care. In otherwords, is this just keeping his body alive, or is he living some kind of life?

The main thing to me is what he would want. What have his comments been throughout life as to these methods of staying alive? Many people do really well with tubes, because they are otherwise in good shape. That is the basic question. Your doctor should be able to help you find answers.
I love the response above from MIndingOurElders. It seems like nowadays most people want to pull the plug and starve/dehyrate people to death. Everything that MInding wrote is spot-on ethically.
My FIL had a hemmoragic stroke and was bed-ridden for 3 yrs.
He lost his appetite and a feeding tube was put in to provide enough nutrition. His mind was good.
He finally said that he'd had enough....."This is a He** of a way to die! Take it out!" The extended care facility he was in had a psychatrist in to consult with him. The Dr. asked about why he wanted the tube taken out & he responded with the same statement as above. The Dr then asked if he was aware of what would happen if the tube was removed. My FIL told the Dr. "I'll die" "This is inhumane for someone like me".
They followed his wishes and he passed away 28 - 30 days later.
My Husband and I agree that we would not want to be in that position. Only if there was a high chance that recovery would be possible, would we want this for ourselves.
You might want to talk to a priest, minister or rabbi about this if
you are religious.
Quality of life is the most important factor in making a determination with regards to continuing use of a feeding tube or its' removal. I recently watched my FIL die, over a period of five weeks. He was not on a feeding tube. Hospitalization for a mild heart attack, at age 90, caused hospital delirium for which he did not recover and lost all cognition. Had a feeding tube been used, we have no way of knowing how long he would have lived. His prolonged and assisted existence would have been inhumane, to some degree. Death is sometimes the right thing to allow for it is a natural function of the brain that controls when the dying process begins.

With regard to dinak's comment. Being ethical in your decision is of course most important, but by no means is it cruel or lacking in moral judgment to decide not to use a J tube. I disagree that most people nowadays want to "pull the plug" and starve/dehydrate people to death. People today better understand the need for advanced directives and make choices based on the long term quality of life for the patient, not necessarily the loved ones.

To boomer1948:

Sad, but true. Terry was just one example. Her parents wanted to take care of her; her doting "husband" was living with another woman and fathered children with his new woman; yet he was allowed to make the decision even though no paperwork existed. He had abondoned her; her parents wanted her. No brainer. This was yet another disgusting example of how common sense and compassion took a back seat to contemporary thoughts on life's value and quality. I think Terry's parents knew better than anyone what qulity of life she could have with them.
End of life issues are never easy, especially because we've gotten so good at keeping people alive. To top it off, my 91 year old mother (former RN) has told me more than once that most people don't want to die. But I do think quality of life combined with truthfully considering what you would want for yourself is sn important consideration. No matter what, we are all going to die. The scary part is we really don't know what that means. Is there more waiting for us or nothing. Realistically it's only those two options. If there's more, what would it be (we all have our own hopes)? And if there's nothing than it won't matter. It's so much easier to hang onto what we know for certain.

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