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My mother who is 83 and has dementia and alzheimers is in the hospital with pneumonia. She is having difficulty breathing and keeps moaning. When she eats, she takes a mouth and then does not swallow for a very long time. Sometimes she does not want to eat. Am I doing right by trying to force her into eating? I kept her in a nursing home a couple of years ago and they did not make an attempt to feed her if she refused to eat. She was there for PT after a broken hip and so was more 'together' at that time. Now she is very weak from pneumonia and I am not sure if I should just leave her alone if she does not want to eat. She is getting IV fluids along with her antibiotics at the hospital.

Is anyone there having similar questions or issues?

Thanks in advance for you time..

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Excuse me but I must correct my answer above. I meant to say (and type) that WORDS are being put into your mouth that I just think DO NOT belong there. Your Mother has pneumonia. Unless there are other complications that you did not mention please keep that fact in mind and do not jump the gun.
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I have to disagree with the two previous answers. They are putting words into your mouth (into your question) that I just think belong there. You mentioned the NH staff not (force) feeding your Mother a few years earlier. I wouldn't base anything now on what the staff at a nursing home did or didn't do. They are all almost always short-handed and in my experience would happily look for an excuse not to use up the aide's time feeding an ill woman. But you do see, don't you, that your Mother survived that NH, she is still with you, with us. Your Mother will probably not want to eat while she has pneumonia and is in some discomfort. And the hospital is seeing to it that she is being fed in her IV along with the antibiotics. You can give her juices and water and play it by ear as to when she might want something with more substance, a bowl of yogurt or ice cream. It will take a few days probably for her to get over the pneumonia. It is after the IV tube is removed that it will be important for soft foods to be reintroduced into her diet. Yes, your Mother has dementia. That in no way, shape or form, means she will succumb to the pneumonia. And you're thinking should not be colored by other stories you hear: such as an elderly person on hospice who is being "kept comfortable" on morphine. It seems that a decision was made in that particular situation, one it seems to me from what you have written, that has nothing to do or in common with your Mother's present medical situation. I don't know why your Mother is in hospital or why she has pneumonia; but it's almost impossible these days for an elderly person to get out of a hospital stay without coming down with pneumonia. It happened to my Mother two years ago. And when her temperature returned to normal and her lungs cleared her appetite didn't go along with the program. She didn't want to eat, and of course the threats of re-inserting the feeding tube started almost immediately. I would not hear of it. Between my brother and myself we coaxed my Mother to eat, and that was all she wrote. I broke my hip at age 59, and coming off that surgery I had no appetite and as far as I'm concerned my appetite still has not returned to normal. For more than a year following my hip surgery I drank liquid yogurt and usually only added to that whatever fruit was in season (like pounds of cherries a day at times!) and took a multi-vitamin. Right now I'm going through a frozen yogurt phase and I've got a feeling it's not as healthy weight-wise as the liquid yogurt diet!. Good luck with being there for your Mother. When signs of an appetite start to return bring her good and tasty things from outside the hospital environment.
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Thank you very much for both your answers
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My father's last hospital stay was for pneumonia. He had been there just the week prior, was released and then began spitting up blood. He had a Trust, Will and Health care directive. He did not want to be kept alive by any artificial means. In the hospital they kept after us to intibate (sp) him and put a feeding tube down him. We refused the intibation tube in the throat but after them pushing us allowed the feeding tube.

I think it was a mistake and I would not do it again. It is not comfortable and why really are we trying to keep them alive? In my father's case he was never going to get "well" again, his emphysema was too severe.

If I were in your shoes and she was my mother, I would talk to the doctor about letting her go. I would have my mom placed on meds to keep her comfortable and I would just let her go.

Good Luck and God Bless You Both!
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Yes, leave her alone if she doesn't want to eat. Don't force feed her. Try to get her to take a little applesauce or yogurt, something soft and smooth, but if she doesn't want it don't give it. Elderly people who are in the same stage as your mom sounds like she's in will often keep the food in their mouth because they don't understand anymore what to do with it. Often it will dribble back out of the mouth but sometimes not and you don't want her to choke.

I'm a nurse and I've seen families try to force feed their loved ones and it's maddening. I had a patient who was on hospice. This gentleman was being kept comfortable with morphine an Ativan. He wasn't conscious any more but his grown daughters would drag him out of bed, force him to sit up, and try to shove soft food and juice down his throat. I know they meant well and when someone has gotten to the point where they don't want to eat anymore we sometimes worry that they're going to starve to death, we want to help. But it's all a part of the process. The body knows what it needs. Think about having a bad flu. You've been vomiting, having diarrhea, in and out of weird sleeping patterns, high fever.....When I get sick like this the last thing I want is food and my body does fine without it for the time being. Once I'm well again I regain my appetite. If your mom gets a little stronger she will let you know if she would like something to eat. And as I said, if it makes you feel better try to give her half a teaspoon of something very soft. See if she swallows it, watch her throat. If she doesn't or if she spits it back out don't try to feed her. A half a teaspoon of applesauce, if left in the mouth, will dissolve and not choke her. If she does swallow it try another half teaspoon.
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