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It snuck up on us - virtually no symptoms until 2AM Monday morning, shaking, fever, high blood pressure. Today, he had a swallow study. They recommended a peg tube for feeding and informed us that he was aspirating when he ate. We hate to remove the feature of food in his life. He is 90, weak, and mentally unable to understand the change in body that feeding would bring. Any suggestions, warnings, words of wisdom are much needed and appreciated. We want Dad home with Mom, more time please!

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Feeding tubes are awesome devices. Tube feeding kept my brother's strength up while he was recovering from throat cancer. (He eats normally, now.)

But at age 90? With dementia? Nope. I wouldn't do it. It doesn't eliminate the risk of aspirating -- we can aspirate on our own saliva. And very often with dementia the person keeps trying to take it out (not understanding what it is) and winds up being restrained. Bad situation.

BUT that is MY attitude. Do you know what your father's feelings are, or were before the dementia?
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Tggator, a couple of years ago, i spent a very dark night in a hospital room with my mom on a breathing machine. She went septic after a bout of aspiration pneumonia. I would not have made it through that night, or the following three years without the folks on this board.

This is hard, hard stuff, and my heart goes out to you and your family. I hope that dad pulls though and gets to have some more good times.

Let us know how you're doing. We care. Don't You forget to eat!
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Dad is doing better. We transferred him to a major hospital. In addition to pneumonia, he tested positive for the flu yesterday. However, he is "feeling better". He was moved to the floor today, out of ICU. He said, "I thought I wasn't going to make it. It looks like I'm going to live. Thank you." He has slept a lot today now that he is out of ICU. He has no fever. We are all hopeful that our time together will be longer.
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I"m sitting in the dark in the ICU room with Dad. My sister, brother and I have been alternating sitting with him. Somehow, a decision to transfer him to a larger town, to continue his care, including a peg tube has come about. It's all so surreal now. Just last Sunday, we filled up the truck, picking up pinecones, and now we're in the dark, me recording private thoughts with strangers - he lying in an inflatable bed, without his wife adjusting to a temporary feeding tube that has just been inserted to take the place of some of the most enjoyable pleasures of his life - "water", milk, meals with the family, the loving preparation time. What are we doing? You justify it - "He wants to spend more time with his wife - they truly do have the most tender marriage, but at what cost - further complications. My name is listed first on the advance care directive. Sitting by his bedside this afternoon, he said to me, "I thought I was going to die. I didn't know what I was going to do." That's the closest I've ever gotten to hearing his wishes concerning extending life.
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I was surprised by the same problem as you. Took Dad to the Dr. because he had a chest cold. Dr told us it wasn't pneumonia, it was a virus and would take some time to clear up. A few days later, took him to emergency and he had aspiration pneumonia. This was all mixed in with a UTI.  Be sure they checked him for that too.  The next day they informed us he had gone septic and was not responding. Dad refused a feeding tube, and also IV nutrition. I was shocked when they told us there were no other options, and they recommended palliative care.
I hope they find a way to help you and your father. Tomorrow will mark 1 year since he passed, and I still struggle with it.
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So sorry for you both

Tggator
Do you know your dad's wishes on these types of measures?
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When you say, we want Dad home with Mom...

Who's that coming from, mainly? I mean, naturally the family would like Dad to recover and go home, of course. But I'm wondering if the main reason for prolonging your father's life is that your mother can't bear to let him go? How is she coping, overall?

Your father is in ICU and has been since Monday. I hate to be doing the warnings part, but I think I might be concentrating on helping mother prepare herself, just in case; and hold off on the PEG feeding decision until there was a little more clarity about how your father is likely to get on. Has there been improvement in his condition otherwise?
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Personally I wouldn't do it. Everything I've read about feeding tubes tells me they are wonderful in temporary situations like Jeannegibbs described or for those people who are able to live a fairly active life and can manage their own care, but with terminal illness and dementia they most often lower quality of life and statistically add very little extra time. ICU staff are focused on aggressive, life saving measures and surgeons tend to see surgical solutions but here may be other options, at the very least trying a modified dysphagia diet - pureed foods, thickened fluids and special attention at meal times. I also know that aspiration pneumonia and eating difficulties are common near the end of life for people with advanced dementia, my own mom is living in a nursing home and for her the order is that she is not transported to hospital.
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My husband had a bleeding ulcer early in his dementia journey. A feeding tube was suggested. He rejected it and I supported his decisions (knowing it was a life-long attitude and not just due to the dementia.) The speech pathology who explained the process to us and listed all the benefits was a very young woman. She did a good job, but my husband's answer was still "no thanks." She left the room and came back with some dietary suggestions. She had tears in her eyes. She said, softly, "I wish my grandfather had the decision you did."
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Gator, how is Dad today?
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