Food for thought

Feeding tubes may harm dementia patients

A review of scientific literature on the benefits and dangers of using a feeding tube on people suffering dementia shows that it may actually compromise their quality of life and number of years lived. Poor nutritional intake is often a consequence of the deteriorating mental condition. By inserting a feeding tube into the stomach of these patients, their families may feel reassured that at least some food is being consumed. But the researchers found no proof this actually helps. What’s more, they say part of the dying process includes the gastrointestinal system shutting down. While a feeding tube can benefit some dementia patients, they say there is another option too: assisted oral feeding.


Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.