In a painful role reversal, adult caregivers sometimes find themselves facing the dilemma of how to nourish a dementia-stricken loved one who can't, or won't, eat.

The most common way to medically resolve this problem is through the insertion of a feeding tube into the stomach of the elder. As with any procedure, the insertion of a feeding tube has its own set of benefits and drawbacks that a caregiver must sift through before deciding what is best for their elderly loved one.

This decision is by no means an easy one, and research indicates that caregivers are often not getting all the information they need to make an informed choice.

A recent study led by researchers from Brown University found that 13.7% of caregivers confronted with the decision of whether or not to have a feeding tube inserted into their loved one were unable to have a dialogue with a doctor about the procedure. A staggering 41.6% of caregivers had a discussion, but it lasted no longer than 15 minutes.

Outside of this study, there have even been reports that doctors have entirely bypassed the opinions of caregivers and went ahead and put a feeding tube in an elder without the caregiver's knowledge.

These findings indicate that caregivers are seriously under-informed when it comes to making a decision on feeding tube insertion.

Insist on having discussions with your elderly loved one's doctors about the diagnoses they make and treatments they suggest.

If you ask to have a conversation about an elder's medical care, a doctor will more than likely be more than happy to have it with you.

These discussions will ensure that you are able to optimally manage the medical care of the elder you are caring for.

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For more information on managing the medical care of an elder:

How to Talk to Your Doctor: A Guide for Caregivers and Elders

How Geriatric Care Managers Can Help Busy Caregivers