My mom’s 3 years journey: Alzheimers and Tube Feeding

It has been slightly more than 3 years since my mom, who have advanced Alzheimers have been placed on NG tube feeding. In the video below, I share the journey as well as an update of the tracheostomy procedure my mom underwent 8 months ago which helped her tremedously.

The trachestomy procredure came under the recommendation of the ICU doctor when my mom was placed on a ventilator last year. The doctor noted from my mom’s past medical history with the hospital that she had been in and out of hospital due to recurring lung infection, pneunomia and told me that a tracheostomy would be able to solve this issue.

My mom started nasogastric tube feeding because she had ‘forgotten’ how to swallow due to Alzheimers. Usually when we have fluid, phlegm or mucus in our throat or lungs, we would attempt to clear these secretions either via coughing them out or swallowing these secretions to our stomach.

In cases of those who lost the swallowing reflex due to conditions such as Alzheimers, stroke or motor neurone disease, or due to treatments such as oral radiotherapy, they would require phlegm suction to prevent secretions build up which would harden in their track.

If not, these secretions would harden with time which may block the air passageway to the lungs, or cause bacteria buildup when they accumulate in the lungs. This leads to respiratory related infections and pneunomia which is common in bedridden and those who are on tube feeding.

I have been performing regular suction (minimum 4 times a day, sometimes more if my mom have more phlegm). The oral suction is important but there is limitation as the suction catherer cannot get past the voice box in the throat hence it is not deep enough to get all the phlegm removed. If the person does not cough strongly, the secretions would still be stuck deep into the trachea which the suction tube cannot reach unless a tracheostomy is done.

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