MIL in hospice and still eating small amounts of food and water. How long could she last?


MIL had a severe stroke 1.5 weeks ago. She can barely talk, has moments of vascular dementia, can't swallow solid food, completely paralyzed on her right side and incontinent. She in also in a lot of pain from severe arthritis in her hip. She has a very small chance of recovery. Based on her wishes and quality of life, we chose hospice. Our only other option would be to put a feeding tube in her stomach and place her in long term care. She's been in the hospice facility for 2 days now. She's still eating small amounts of food (probably taking in 200-300 calories a day) and drinking 2 cups of liquid a day. I was wondering if anyone has had a similar experience? If so, how long before your loved one passed on? I know it usually is about 2 weeks without food and water but since she is consuming small amounts, I would assume she would last longer? She is in her early 70's and about 75 pounds overweight. Not sure if that will matter? I love my MIL very much and I do not want to see her or my FIL and husband suffer. It's killing us all to see her go through this. Also, medicare will not cover her room and board for the hospice since she does not have an actual terminal illness like cancer. FIL has enough money to pay for 2 or 3 weeks, but after that we will probably have to bring her home. FIL can't physically care for her and my husband and I can't afford to take off work to help. We'll all under so much stress.

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P.S. As for how long your MIL can last, no one can say. I work in hospice and that's the main question I get from family members. Sometimes it's easy to tell, sometimes not. But most medical professionals won't go out on a limb and give a time limit because there's just no knowing for sure and we don't want to make things more difficult on the family by floating time frames around.
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What a stressful predicament for everyone. It must be very difficult for your family.

As Barb mentioned, Medicaid might be an option however the application process can take months and from what you told us it sounds like some decisions are going to have to be made very soon.

If your MIL were to be taken home your hospice provider would make sure that she and your FIL had everything they needed to care for her from a hospital bed to Depends and everything in between.

But as you said, your FIL would be unable to care for her. Any one person would be unable to care for her. Could your FIL hire caregivers from an agency? Many agencies provide hospice-trained staff. They would work together with your original hospice service to make sure your MIL is getting everything she needs.

In-home care is expensive but if your FIL could afford it he could have his wife at home while professionals took care of her every need.
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I'm so sorry you're going through this; it must be heartbreaking!

Talk to the Hospice social worker about the financial reality of the situation. You might consider applying for Medicaid and think about moving her to a nursing home with hospice services there.
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