By: Jennifer Watson-Choi
The inevitable decline of function in those with late stage Alzheimer’s disease or advanced dementia, leaves family caregivers with the difficult decisions of how to feed mom? If swallowing and chewing have become difficult and she’s sputtering and coughing, what are the options? Until recently, gastric-tube feeding would most likely have been the only answer, a choice that involves surgically inserting a tube into the stomach of your loved one and having them be fed a liquid diet through this.
A recent study published in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society argued that “feeding tubes do not necessarily prolong life in patients with advanced dementia, and that surveys indicate that a vast majority of nursing home residents say they would rather die than live with a feeding tube.” “Feeding tubes do not always prevent aspiration in people who have trouble swallowing” the author furthers, as well as saying that “ the tubes can be very uncomfortable and people with dementia must often be physically restrained or sedated to prevent them from yanking the tubes out.” Along comes comfort feeding!
Comfort feeding is being touted as the latest in compassionate patient care by doctors and caregivers and as the name suggests, is just one way to bring back a little dignity and comfort to the final stages of disease and life. Advocates believe that comfort feedings provide those much needed connections between caregivers and the person with dementia. It involves hand-feeding a loved one, sitting down with them, interacting and connecting, carefully feeding them and cueing them into eating instead of having someone walk up and pour the next meal down the feeding tube. While those being comfort fed may not be able to complete their whole meal each time, they’re being fed a dose of love in its place. And for those in the end stages of disease, that may mean the world.
Feeding tubes are used in about a third of nursing homes, a USA study reveals, and the numbers are likely similar in Canada. Many facilities fear having their patients lose weight too quickly, what can be an obvious sign of malnutrition. On a practical level, hand feeding is a labour and time intensive procedure and can simply not be done in many facilities. Those who provide homecare for their loved ones are able to assist their loved ones to meet their nutritional needs by using comfort feeding.
Consider the comfort of homecare services for your loved one with advanced dementia. The professional caregivers at Premier Homecare Services provide personalized, one on one care at home as well as in health care and long term care facilities. Learn more about how we can assist you in providing a dignified life to your loved one; please contact your local office today!
By: Jennifer Watson-Choi
You’ve been noticing changes for a while now, slowly, one by one… your aging parent isn’t able to care for themselves as independently as before. Their making excuses as to why the laundry isn’t done, the bathroom cleaned or the garbage taken out. When is this gradual noticing of signs enough to do something about the situation? When should you call in extra homecare help?
Here are signs to help you make that decision. The list is not exhaustive, as each person is living their own unique situation. If your loved one exhibits a few of these indicators, be proactive and consider calling Premier Homecare Services to schedule your complimentary in-home assessment.
- Forgetfulness: Is your aging loved one forgetting appointments, misplacing items and not taking their medications accurately? Consider that dementia is different than the forgetfulness associated with normal aging.
- Changes in housekeeping: Are the dishes piling up? Is the food in the fridge and cupboards all within their expiry dates? A clean and clutter-free home is an important safety issue that cannot be undervalued. Preventing unnecessary illness, trips and falls are the benefits of better housekeeping.
- Depression: Does your elderly loved one seem lethargic, unmotivated to keep up their activities fo daily living or to maintain social contact with friends? Of course, depression is a serious illness that must be discussed with your health care provider, however homecare services provide a social outlet as well as a renewed sense of independence, which may lift their mood.
- Weight loss: Often a sign of malnutrition, weight loss is an important indicator of declining health and may mean that your aging loved one is not able to prepare nutritious, balanced meals for themselves. Having someone prepare meals and freeze individual servings means your loved one’s health has a strong foundation.
- Changes in hygiene: Have you noticed changes in grooming, bathing and dressing? Are they wearing clothes too often or clothing that seems inappropriate for the season or time of day?
- Falls, burns or bruises: Do you notice any unexplained bumps, bruises or burns? They may feel embarrassed to tell you of a fall, feeling they’re admitting their age. Making the home a safer place by installing railings, removing throw rugs and other trip hazards is a start. But, having someone to assist them with chores and other difficult physical tasks is an everyday precaution.
- Incontinence: Loss of bladder control is common, but you should look for signs that incontinence is preventing your loved one from socializing or taking part in their hobbies or everyday tasks.
- Mobility issues: Getting around is sure to get more difficult as we age and the physical complaints compound, yet that doesn’t need to prevent your aging loved one from enjoying time outdoors. Having homecare helps to ensure clients can get around safely.
- Mood changes and resistance to help: It’s common for someone who feels as though they’re losing their independence, physical ability and so on, to resist help. They may want to prove they can still care for themselves. Many are afraid of going into one of those long-term care facilities we’ve all heard horror stories about. Either way, you need to remember that if your loved one can enjoy an improved quality of life with extra help, finding a way through the resistance is important. Speak to your homecare service provider on how to approach this subject with your loved one.
If you feel your loved one exhibits a few of these indicators of needing extra assistance to remain independent, please contact your local Premier Homecare Service provider today for a complimentary in-home consultation.