3 Tips to Care for Elderly Patients with Feeding Tubes

elderly patients with feeding tubes

3 Tips to Care for Elderly Patients with Feeding Tubes

Caregivers graduate with a multitude of knowledge but caring for a patient with a specific diagnosis or medical device can need additional information, guidance, and experience. We’re here to help! Check out our blog below for three tips to care for elderly patients with feeding tubes to honor Feeding Tube Awareness Week, that took place earlier this month.

According to verywellhealth, “people may need a feeding tube in quite a few health situations that may leave them with an inability to safely swallow food and water. There are also other uses for a feeding tube. They deliver fluids and food in liquid form, but medications too. The tubes also allow for suctioning out air and stomach contents when needed.”
It’s also important to note before reading any further that there are several types of feeding tubes and may all require different training to safely clean and use out of concern for the patient’s wellbeing.
Types of feeding tubes may include:
·         Nasogastric tube
·         Orogastric tube
·         Jejunostomy tube
·         Gastric tube

1)      Communicate clearly and continuously check for nausea, diarrhea, or stomach cramps while feeding
Elderly patients, especially those who are new to having a feeding tube, must become comfortable with communicating how they feel, as everything might be a new feeling for them. It is important to show patience and support when beginning a new process with them.

2)      Be gentle
As we grow older, our skin loses elasticity. For elderly patients with feeding tubes, being gentle with medical tape on their skin can make all the difference! Elderly patients’ skin, depending on skin type and medical history, can be prone to skin irritation. It is also recommended by National Jewish Health, to use Vaseline on the skin daily if the patient is experiencing a tube leak. “Placing a piece of split gauze on the patient’s skin can greatly help decrease the friction and uncomfortably they may be feeling,” says Team Select Respiratory Clinical Educator Melissa Malone, CRT.

3)      Keep it clean
Elderly patients are more likely to get an infection, so when caring for an elderly patient with a feeding tube, it’s important to wash your hands before and after cleaning the area. According to Team Select Mobile Physician Services Vice President and General Manager, Clay Hall PhD, MBA, NP-C, “geriatric patients are generally more prone to infections, and this is commonly due to normal aging process where the body functions that keep the white blood cells robust and functioning to fight off infection began to decline.” More commonly elderly individuals are more prone to infections because of reduced physical mobility, mainly respiratory infections when the lungs become weaker leading to pneumonia which is one of the most common infections in this category of patients. That’s why physical activity and physical therapy, especially after an illness or hospitalization is so critical to avoiding further illness.”

Team Select Home Care offers personalized care from the comfort of home! Offering Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Skilled Nursing, Medical Social Work, and Speech Therapy for you or your loved one to help prevent infection, improve quality of life, and provide quality, in-home care. Learn more and schedule care today!