What can I expect after an Alzheimer's patient refuses to eat or drink?

Lorizaine64 asked...

What should a person to expect when a Alzheimer's patient will not eat or drink anymore?

Expert Answer

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

When a person with Alzheimer's disease refuses to eat or drink and they are in the advanced stage of the disease when they also need all of their personal needs cared for by others, it is a natural stage where the body is getting ready to "transition". Tube feeding is not indicated at this time as the burdens of this medical intervention far outweigh any benefits. It is actually less stressful on the body not to have liquid at this time. You can keep the patient comfortable with mouth swabs or chips of ice, pieces of popsicles, lollypops dipped in water so they can suck the liquid and it is sweet. They do not feel hunger or thirst during the dying process. I hope you are using hospice services and the person is comfortable. Loving touch, reading, music, and just talking seems to be comforting to the patients with advanced dementia.

Blessings to you at this difficult time.