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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10547
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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My 91 year old mother has had schizophrenia than 30 years.

Customer Question

My 91 year old mother has had schizophrenia for more than 30 years. She lived for 20 of those years with my sister, who passed away 5 years ago (very suddenly). After that my mom took a fall and had a serious head injury. The Dr's said she would only live a very short period of time. That was 5 years ago, she is still with us.
She never had a great appetite but she now won't each much of anything at all. A couple of bites at best per meal, this started about a month ago and has been getting worse and worse. She has lost 10 pounds in the last month. The nursing facility she is in talked about getting her to Dr. and possibly giving her something to stimulate her appetite, that was a week go, today they said they wanted to put her on a feeding tube. It has also been mentioned that she either has a) forgotten how to eat or b) this is her last stand at making her own decisions.
I don't want Mom to suffer but I don't want to just abandon all hope either. She has some dementia as well, so I don't really know what is going on.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 10 months ago.

*This website DOES NOT constitute treatment and only provides information and advice in a Q&A format. For treatment (therapy and/or medications) you must go to a licensed professional in your area. Please note that anything said here is not private or confidential, as this is a public forum.

Hello and thank you for using JustAnswer. I am very sorry that your mother is having these symptoms and a lack of an appetite, I can understand how distressing this can be to see her in this state. A feeding tube would definitely be a last resort and would be of tremendous discomfort to your mother is she was being forced to eat. If she is not in a severe state of dementia, than most likely she has not forgotten to eat, just does not have an appetite because of the negative symptoms from her Schizophrenia. Negative symptoms are usually an absence of normal function such as no motivation/drive, flat affect, lack of appetite, sleeping all day, etc...Unfortunately there is no great treatment for negative symptoms, but I would recommend that her doctors consider trying her on an appetite stimulant type medication first like Mirtazapine to help encourage her to eat more. Mirtazapine is an antidepressant that is often used to stimulate appetite in the elderly, so this may be effective for your mother. After appetite stimulant medications are considered than the choice of IV nutrition or a feeding tube can be considered, but hopefully the Mirtazapine will be effective for your mother.