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Facing Eating Difficulties in End-Stage Dementia

Gillick, Muriel R. MD; Mitchell, Susan L. MD

Feature Topic: Ethics

Eating problems commonly develop in individuals with advanced dementia. This article discusses the emotions such problems engender and describes the types of eating difficulties that arise. It reviews the appropriate evaluation of eating problems, the approaches available for dealing with these problems, and an approach to making difficult decisions about nutrition near the end of life. Decisions about nutrition are placed in a broader context of other issues facing caregivers as dementia progresses through its final stage.

Physician-in-Chief at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged, Boston; and Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. (Gillick)

Physician, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged; Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School; and Associate Director of the Harvard Geriatrics Fellowship Program at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged; Boston, Massachusetts. (Mitchell)

Address correspondence to: Muriel Gillick, MD, HRCA; 1200 Centre St., Boston, MA 02131. Telephone: 617–363–8577. Fax: 617–363–8929. Email:

Dr. Mitchell is supported by the NIH-NIA Mentored Patient Research Award K23AG20054–01.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.