How long can someone survive with very little food or water?

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My husband has later stage Alzheimer's and has been declining over the past several weeks. I care for him at home by myself as all of our family live out of state. I also work full-time, but work from home 2 days/wk - so 3 days/wk, I've been taking him to an Alzheimer's day care while I go into the office. But he's become too weak and frail to do that any more - so I've hired in-home help. He won't let the in-home help come near him and so doesn't eat at all during the day while I'm at the office - and only eats/drinks a little when I come home. They try and put food and Ensure on his bed table, but he ignores it. Even when I'm with him during the day, he eats/drinks very little. He can't/won't get up up, so I'm cleaning/changing him in bed, which I don't feel is adequate. I'm mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. Tomorrow, I'm going to ask his neurologist to place an order for a hospice evaluation, but I was wondering how long he can continue with very little food or liquid - or not getting up at all?

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MirnaD, It certainly sounds like you are a wonderful caretaker for your mom. C diff is absolutely awful in addition to everything else they're going through. My dad has stopped eating anything really, but he did get down the baby-food type of applesauce. It's more pureed than traditional. Thank you for your prayers. Prayers for you and your mom as well.
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Just found this post. I've ask the same question. Mom is 81 and is barely eating after a bout with c diff. While in hospital she was introduced to ensure clear. While mom didn't drink the milky ensure without mixing it with coke ( awful I know) she drinks the ensure clear. I serve it with all three tiny meals and she can handle that better. She said she doesn't want feeding tube so ... hoping the ensure will give her something. She has a bit of dementia. As only child and caretaker I feel your pain. Prayers.
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I have come home today with my dad who has stage iv lung cancer, now suffering from dysphagia and most recently a c dif colitis infection contracted in the hospital. Because he has no appetite and aspirates most of what he tries to eat, the drs want to put in a feeding tube. He refuses a's always been his wishes. Hospice is eating him now as I am the primary caretaker and need all the help I can get. I have no idea how long he can last like this. He's already starting to swell around his joints and nurses told me to not be alarmed if they start to seep. This is just quite overwhelming and I'm so worried for my dad.
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Thank you all for sharing Sue Q. I find myself coming close what you are going thru. We have been home from the hospital for 2 days. Mom has an infection in her intestines that needed hospitalization. Due to the infection she wasn't eating for a couple of days before we went and of course not eating made her sodium, potassium and electrolytes level go really low. Not to mention she was dehydrated. She is eating so little now I can't imagine how long she can do this. She understands she needs to eat but said she just doesn't feel like it and takes a couple of bites and saids she full. She's 81 and has had RA since she was 8 years old. Her hands and feet are very disfigured due to the RA. She has pain all the time. I am an only child and the only care giver. The follow-up hospital nurse came by today to check on mom and suggested I get ahold of hospice. I was not aware that I could call them so early in this process and reading other experiences here I see that I should. I am hoping they can give me some answers as to what to tell my children and cousin as to a time line for them to come visit (everyone lives in different states). I don't want to cry wolf to early, but I also don't want to wait till its to late. It is so hard and I am starting to feel very emotional. I thank you again for sharing! I thank everyone for letting me share. May God bless and keep us all strong.
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Big hug Sue Q...
Thinking of you and your mom
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Sue Q, Big hugs to you. My mom was a similar weight and height when she passed on April 12.

On April 10th she was barely awake but could communicate and sit upright with the help of pillows. I got her to have a couple of sips of water and an ounce or two of food. She had one piece of butter caramel corn and told me it tasted so good. She loved that so much.

By the next morning she was pretty much in a coma state and passed a day later.

My thoughts and prayers are with you right now. This is a difficult time. Take a moment to step outside and breathe. Look at the stars at night or the green of spring if it's daytime. Relax for a few moments. Be strong for mom. Lean on your loved ones. Talk with them about it if you can. It's scary and it's so sad and it's so darn hard.

Let us know how you are doing, please. It's not a journey you want to take alone.
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SUE Q, no one knows exactly when someone will die. It sounds like for your dear mother the time is close.

Is hospice able to control the suffering? Are they a comfort to you? Ask your questions of them. They have lots of experience with the dying. Use the 24-hour phone number they provided if you need to talk to someone about your mother, even in the middle of the night. Also ask the chaplain or social worker to come visit you.

This has got to be a terribly traumatic situation for you. I hope your memories of your mother when she was healthy are helping you.
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my mother is dying as we speak of metastatic ca. came home on hospice in Feb. 2017 it is now May she is still here with us. Only weighs 67lbs. now. will only eat very very little or take a few sips. How long can this go on. She is 5'3in tall. she is really suffering. Sleeps most of the time. Do you have any answers please. I know only God knows when he will take her. Thank You for letting me get this out. Love to all going through this. SUE Q
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I have to agree unless things change it is probably a matter of weeks. He may not need a lot though, to just be in bed full time, so that can't be predicted with certainty. So sorry you are going through this, and if you are like most people, you are torn between wishing he could get better and not die, and wishing the suffering was over with. Hugs and prayers for you both!
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Call Hospice immediately. They encourage people not to wait to the bitter end. Having them help and give comfort is the best thing ever. Good luck and God Bless!
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