Today’s pace of life is moving faster than ever, but as caregivers it’s imperative that we stay current regarding which medical procedures are truly beneficial for our loved ones and which ones aren’t.
In my book Goodnight, Sweet: A Caregiver’s Long Goodbye, I detailed my grandmother’s 1997 experience having a P.E.G. tube (Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastronomy—a plastic feeding tube) put in. I was told that because she aspirated almost everything that went into her mouth, her risk of developing pneumonia or even choking to death was very high. I was told a P.E.G. tube would protect her and improve her quality of life.
The problem was she had Alzheimer’s Disease. Today’s medical evidence suggests that a P.E.G. tube in the advanced dementia patient not only fails to protect them from aspiration, but increases risk of pain, ulcers, infection, and in severe cases can lead to bowel or liver perforation and hemorrhage[i]. In our case, my grandfather, in his own impaired cognitive state, actually pulled Grandma’s tube out, leaving a gapping hole in her abdomen.
Ask your loved one’s doctor about benefits and risks before authorizing any procedures. Just because someone else had it done once many years ago doesn’t mean it’s today’s best practice.