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I took my 91 year old father with vascular dementia to the hospital last Thursday morning. He had been having loose bowels for 4 days and wasn't eating or drinking. He had gotten so weak, he couldn't stand. He's still in the hospital, not eating or drinking. I guess I'm wondering what happens next? How long can someone go without eating? We have all of the proper documents in place: DNR, Living Will, Medical Power of Attorney (me).

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It can go on for a very long time, sometimes weeks. Are they giving him any fluids now? This could keep him going for awhile anyway depending on the prognosis. Certainly being sick last week weakened him and he may be eating and drinking very little.

Consult with dr and care team. Do they think he will recover from this bout or is something else going on with regards to aging, weakened condition, organs shutting down? They should be able to give some prognosis.

If he is already very weak, dehydrated, and in poor health...and continues to refuse to eat or drink, likely it could accelerate. My dad had cancer and he stopped eating at thanksgiving other than minimal bite of this or that, a Popsicle. He drank a little for the first couple weeks, then only wet sponge to his lips. He passed away 4 weeks later.

It all depends. Only your care team or hospice can advise and it's still a guess.

I'm so sorry. Prayers are with you.
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