My husband is 87 with dementia and is now having more difficulty with swallowing. He can still chew and swallow but there are more occasions now when he does choke and it is frightening. He is bedridden and the hospice nurse has said that the Heimlich maneuver would be difficult to perform and if the paramedics were called and they got here in time to do the Heimlich they would almost certainly break bones since he is very very thin. The alternative is not pleasant to think about. I have not heard of the Life Vac device being used on the elderly in this situation. Does anyone have an advice or experience with this? Thank you.

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I am a respiratory therapist and I still have not seen this device in CPR training...yet. After reviewing the online video, I have some pre purchase questions to you.
Many lay people have difficulty learning to to hold the mask on the face with only one hand. You will need practice.
If you use the device and still cannot dislodge the food, are you prepared to still do the invasive Heimlich maneuver? It will be a judgement call to decide when to give up on the device.
There is no need for FDA approval for this device as it is listed as Class 2 assistive.

Now my major question to you is if he has had a swallow study done? From your description, he should only be on pureed substances at this point, period. If you go this route then there is no need for the device because it is only meant for choking of objects. Liquids behave in different ways and a vacuum device will not provide any help at all.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to MACinCT

This is almost certainly, no matter how you approach it, going to lead to aspiration pneumonia. Eventually he will have trouble even with his own secretions.
If you intend to approach this with life prolonging measures you are down to a peg tube, and tube feedings, and while there is still SOME ability of the bowel bacteria to give form to stools, there's very little. You will be down to liquid in and liquid out and constant diaper changes, bed sores and eventual sepsis.
I as an RN so fear tube feedings that it is expressly forbidden in my advance directives. When I can no longer take nourishment I would much prefer to die.
Do your know your husbands wishes in the prolonging of his life?

I am so sorry. There's no good answer to feeding ANYTHING at this point.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to AlvaDeer
ElizabethAR37 Feb 17, 2024
SO agree! I would NOT want a feeding tube at all and have so stated in writing--very clearly, I hope.
Thank you all so very much for so many informative answers. You have really given me the answers I was looking for. He is already on mostly pureed food...applesauce, pudding, ice cream, etc. He does have difficulty with liquids which would rule out using Life Vac.
He is on In Home Hospice care. Recommendations have been made but all final decisions on food, medications, etc. are all left up to me.
My husband does have a health directive and he does not want a feeding tube so thankfully he has taken that decision out of my hands. He also has a DNR. I know what I'm facing ahead but your answers have made it easier for me going forward. Thank you!!
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Tutu82Kailua
AlvaDeer Feb 18, 2024
Thank you for letting us know this.
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I'd feed him a pureed diet and thickened liquids exclusively. It's not worth it to use a Life Vac and run the risk of him choking to death and having such a traumatic experience to deal with, all for a few pieces of food! When swallowing issues occur with advanced dementia, the pureed food diet is what's prescribed.

Best of luck with a difficult situation.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to lealonnie1

I would find this terrifying to experience. I hope you’ve had a swallow study completed or will do one soon to guide you in this. Seems a puréed diet is the only oral feeding route left and even it may be out as an option. The study will guide you
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Daughterof1930

I read the reviews on Amazon positive reviews seemed to come from people who hadn’t used it. Negative reviews would definitely have you not order one. Puréed food is the best answer here.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to KathleenQ

I have one at home just in case. I tried it on me as a test and I can say “yes”. The suction provided would suck anything out! Very easy to use too!
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Eaglet333

Tutu82Kailua: I did see your post of February 18 wherein you stated that you are not going to use the Life Vac.
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Reply to Llamalover47

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