adventures in dysthymia

Saturday, March 23, 2013

By the Spoonful

It has reached the point where my mother, as do many Alzheimer’s sufferers, has difficulty — or simply doesn’t want to — swallow. Although this could lead, eventually, to the need for a feeding tube, I will hold off on that for as long as I possibly can.

I spent five years feeding my father through a tube, so I know the hows, including the ability to change it out every now and then (usually when the balloon that holds it in place in the stomach bursts). He needed the tube as he was in a semi-vegetative state but Mom should be able to continue to eat more or less normally for a while. That does mean pureed food or Boost or such for at least a while, fed one spoonful at a time. This will take up a fair amount of my time but then I was already spending a lot of time on her care.

Perhaps in time, she’ll feel like chewing and swallowing again. If not, liquids and semi-liquids for the rest of her life. In a way, this does streamline the process of keeping her fed. I do have to keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t aspirate food into her lungs (she swallows easier if she’s tilted back some but it increases the danger). I also have to be concerned about her becoming dehydrated — it takes a while to get enough liquid into her by the spoonful. Not to mention the need to keep her fiber intake up.

Well, this makes over twelve years now I’ve been a caregiver, with a brief break between the time my father passed and when my mother started showing signs of dementia. I’ll pray some, curse some, and carry on.

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