Fewer Dementia Patients in Nursing Homes Get Feeding Tubes

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(Fox News) – Fewer U.S. nursing home patients with dementia are getting feeding tubes as mounting evidence suggests it may not help them live longer or make them more comfortable, new research suggests.

Researchers focused on the sickest dementia patients who tend to have difficulty chewing and swallowing as they near the end of life, a point when they may also struggle to speak, recognize loved ones, get out of bed or go to the bathroom independently.

The proportion of these advanced dementia patients who got feeding tubes when they couldn’t eat on their own dropped from 12 percent in 2000 to 6 percent in 2014, according to an analysis of data on 71,000 nursing home residents published in JAMA.

“Families should understand that by foregoing tube-feeding, care is not stopped,” said lead study author Dr. Susan Mitchell of the Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research at Harvard University in Boston. CONTINUE