Tube feeding for dementia patients on the decline

Many dementia patients who have trouble eating are put on feeding tubes.

The tube is surgically inserted through the abdominal wall.

But a growing number of family members are refusing to allow it.

In fact, the proportion of nursing home residents with advanced dementia who get a feeding tube has dropped by 50 percent, according to a story in the New York Times.

Researchers found that in 2000 about 12 percent of patients with the condition had feeding tubes inserted within a year of developing eating problems.

By 2014, the figure had dropped to 6 percent, the story says.

Researchers at Harvard and Brown universities have been studying the issue for years and have demonstrated the drawbacks of artificial feeding in such patients.

In 2013, the American Geriatrics Society recommended against feeding tubes for such patients.

The message: feeding tubes don’t help these patients live longer. And they are associated with a number of problems, including more bedsores and diarrhea.

New York Times article

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