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As I posted previously, Dad fell and broke his hip two weeks ago. He was in the hospital 5 days before being moved back to the nursing home. Though he seemed to make progress, he began to sleep extensively. Saturday he ate some of his breakfast, but only about ten bites of lunch before refusing to eat further. He hasn't eaten since then and has had only a few sips of fluid, which was on Monday. Today is Thursday. He has been in a deep sleep since early Monday. We can feel the vibration in his lungs from fluid and he was suctioned several times. That has stopped now. His oxygen content on Wednesday evening was 90%, even with oxygen being supplied, but his blood pressure was still very good. He seems comfortable, is getting pain meds when needed but they don't seem to be needed that frequently if at all now.


For those of you who've gone through this, how long might Daddy last at this point? Most folks I've spoken to say maybe 3-4 days after eating and drinking has stopped, some say several weeks. I hope he doesn't linger for weeks... It seems Dad just decided he didn't want to eat anymore -- he was having terrible trouble swallowing and I think most of what he was eating was being aspirated toward the end. On Saturday as we sat with him during lunch he just sat and stared into a corner of the room above the table. He wouldn't look at either Mom or myself, seemed like he couldn't figure out how. Late as he lay in bed he asked for Mom though she was right there. She asked, "Can't you see me?" and he said no.

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I have a poignant story about my dad. He was in hospice and I visited him everyday but left in the evening. It was hard for my 80 year old mother so she did not come often, and when she did, she would leave quickly. On the 8th day, she appeared in my dad's doorway. She asked me to leave. Against my better judgement, I went downstairs for lunch. She went to dad and took his hand and said "I'm here honey. I'm here. " He opened his eyes (which he had not done in days) and took his last breath. We wondered if she knew the time was near, or if he was waiting for her. A great 61 year love story.
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You are very close, and I don't think much more than a week. Just make him comfortable. Hold his hand. Sing his favorite songs. He will sleep more and more. Hospice should be in the picture, they are wonderful helpers.
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Thanks so much for all your responses. Yes, Dad has been receiving hospice care for the past three months. They are very much in the picture and are the most wonderful and caring people you can imagine. The hospice nurse actually thought that Dad wouldn't make it through the second night (Tuesday) but he keeps chugging along, albeit slowing down. Wednesday night his breaths were hard to count due to apnea, but the nurse counted about 15. He would stop breathing for 20-30 seconds then start back up again. This went on all day and into the night. Thursday morning (yesterday) his breaths became very shallow and he has been taking between 25 and 30 breaths per minutes. I'm sure his lung capacity is so low right now that he isn't inhaling very much air or oxygen. His skin color is becoming grayer. I just pray that the process doesn't go on so long that it causes a more lingering death, for my Mom's sake. The nursing home staff moved him into a private room, which they certainly didn't have to do, but it was very kind of them. Mom has been able to sleep next to him in another bed. She doesn't want to be away when the time does come. Again, thanks so much.
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My prayers are with you as we went thru this with my father a year ago (a month short of 96). You are doing everything "right" as nature takes its course. After he stopped liquids (couldn't handle them) I think he survived close to 1 1/2 weeks which shocked everyone- one's body is amazing even in its last days.
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Based on what you've said about his lack of eating, the lengthy sleeping and his breathing...I would say your father has hours, no more than a couple of days. Hospice, at least the one serving my area, has what they refer to as the little blue booklet that has the signs of the dying process detailed by hours, days & weeks. If they haven't provided that to you, I would ask. Though, I would think they would have provided that to you already, if available. My local hospice reps, would not verbally answer my questions about a time frame. They would just refer to the little blue booklet.

I agree with others here...talk to him. He will hear you. My husband passed away in August. I was told by a visitor who had experienced several deaths in his family...that hearing is the last thing to go. He advised me to speak to my husband and tell him...it was okay to go. A day before he died, my husband, in a medically induced sleeping state, responded with his hands when visitors would speak to him. So, I know that he was hearing them. The next evening, when there was further decline in his breathing, his sons and I, at bedside, told him it was okay to go. He passed 15 minutes later.

Say what you need to say to your father...tell him you and the family will be okay...and then release him.

I wish you and your family, including your father...peace.
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Is he being treated by Hospice? They are very educated on this subject and comforting for the family... Many of these questions will be answered by them...
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This has got to be a difficult time but in my experience he may be waiting until he is alone to go. I would give him permission and then leave to go eat or have your mom walk away for a short period and very often that is all they need. Hard on love ones because you are not there with them but often they don't want you there for the final. My prayers are with you.
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My mother, began staring into the corner, was not responsive and stopped eating. She had had a stroke. Hospice thought that she would last 7-10 days, but other than her altzeimers, my mother was in excellent health at 93 yrs old, and was alive for 13 days after the stroke. It was a difficult, blessed time at home, but she left this world, exactly the way she chose to, at home, with dad. The work that you are doing now, is priceless. I'll pray for strength for you and your family.
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My mother-in-law died 2 weeks after ceasing all fluids and food. It was much longer than we thought possible. She was in end stages of Alzheimer's.
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If you can try not to measure the time (other than for practical reasons, making sure you and mother eat and drink and sleep regularly for example) I think it will make you less anxious and more able to focus on just being with your father. I'm so sorry you're going through this. Prayers for a peaceful and gentle end. x
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