Older adults may need a feeding tube for several reasons.
Certain cancers of the neck and esophagus may make it hard to eat. Rather than starve, a feeding tube is inserted. A stroke, traumatic brain injury, or dementia can also require a feeding tube. If a person cannot swallow a meal, a feeding tube is what helps keep the body from starving.
If your mom’s doctor recommends a feeding tube, what do you need to know? There are two types of feeding tubes. A nasogastric or orogastric tube that goes through the nose, down the throat, and into the stomach is temporary and will eventually be removed. They’re only used for a few weeks.
Permanent feeding tubes are inserted through the side and into the stomach or small intestine. They are inserted through the abdomen wall into the stomach or small intestine during a surgical procedure. If your mom regained the ability to eat and drink on her own, it could be removed and lead to incisions being stitched up and allowed to heal.
Feeding Tubes Require Expert Care
If your mom has a permanent feeding tube and is being sent home. The care of the feeding tube may not be something you’re comfortable doing. Feeding someone through a tube involves sending the medications or liquid nutrition (formula) into the tube and then cleaning up after. The doctor may recommend having home health care services to make sure your mom is getting her nutrition and medications correctly.
A home health nurse can administer tube feedings and any medications that are inserted through the feeding tube. If you’ll eventually be helping, the nurse may be there to teach you the proper steps. You’ll need to learn how to keep the tube clean. You need to know how to flush it before using a gravity bag or feeding syringe to administer the nutritional formula.
You need to learn how to administer medications and then clean the tube out. If there’s a clog, you’d need to call the doctor. A home health nurse has more skill with this. If the tube fell or got pulled out, the nurse would alert the doctor and take steps to keep infection or other risks from arising. A leak or signs of infection are other issues nurses can help with.
If your mom needs a feeding tube, talk to a senior care agency to make sure she has the support she needs with daily tasks like housework and laundry. Home health care is important for the medical aspects like incision care, feeding tube care, feedings, and medications. Call to learn more.