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How long can an old man live without food?


Prominent Member
My 87 year old dad has Parkinsons and has been in hospital now for 9 weeks. He has C-diff too.

The Parkinsons means he can no longer swallow so he can't eat by mouth. There's also complications so they can't get a tube down his throat now. The family has agreed not to put one through his stomach. He is extremely weak and on oxygen.

The doctors have said today they are not going to attempt to feed him anymore or give any more medication other than to keep him "comfortable".

I am together about this - I can't believe the old sod has soldiered on so long! - we have had it coming a long time, but wondered whether someone can just honestly answer the blunt question which my sister couldn't bring herself to ask the doctor when she visited today: how long will it take the old fella to pass away now that food has been withdrawn?


Distinguished Member
Thats a hard one to call mate as the human will comes into play and by the sound of things your dad is a fighter.

I honestly would get in touch with his GP or someone at the hospital who may help.

I do know humans can go for quite awhile without food as long as water is consumed.

Sorry to hear that about your dad, I know what you are going through tho my dad had cancer.


Established Member
sad to read the story fella - my thoughts with you and the family. Can't offer any medical advice i'm afraid, but glad you are 'together' on it... tuff times.

Solomon Grundy

Distinguished Member
My Gran died of Parkinsons a few years ago but did not get to the stage where you are at with your Dad. She managed a little bit of mushed up Christmas Dinner and passed away in her sleep in the afternoon after a 15 year struggle with it, it was such a relief to see her finally relaxed rather than scrunched up tight in a little ball unable to do anything, not even open her eyes or talk but you knew that her mind was 100% there. If he's anything like my Gran he will be extremely weak and not weigh much at all by now. Fingers crossed it is not too long and my thoughts are with you.


Distinguished Member
Sorry to here that mate.

To answer the question - non medically - it all depends on how long your pops wants to continue it's up to him. Without food days if not weeks, it's water that keeps you going.

Can't think of anything else to write so, peace out K.



I'm afraid it's a question that is impossible to answer. You need to ask your doctors. I won't close the thread though...

My thoughts are with you,



Prominent Member
Assuming already weakened ........... about 1-2 weeks.
Sorry, must be very hard for you.


Very sorry to hear the news. In a way you have time to say goodbye. My father passed away at home just over 2 years ago with a blood clot and it was like someone turning a light off. I tried to resuscitate him while I was on the phone to the emergency services waiting for help. I never had a chance to say goodbye.
I help out at my local care home, use to work full time there and still help out when possible. There is not set time and its never easy.
My thoughts are with you all.


Prominent Member
Sorry to hear about your dad.

I understand why they mightn't want to put a peg in his stomach if he's as weak as you say but, unless it's just a case of not just dragging out the inevitable, is there a reason they won't put him on an intravenous feed?
Last edited:


Prominent Member
Thanks fellas. Appreciate the kind words. We have agreed with the doctors to remove all interventions, there is no quality of life there, so it's just a matter of days at the very most. He seems to be at peace which is comforting.


Distinguished Member
Thanks fellas. Appreciate the kind words. We have agreed with the doctors to remove all interventions, there is no quality of life there, so it's just a matter of days at the very most. He seems to be at peace which is comforting.

I work in an ICU and I have to say, (not just coz I'm biased) but the work that nurses in hospitals do is amazing. He'll be well looked after.


Distinguished Member
*trying not to put foot in mouth*

Not sure how close you are mate but if you haven't and you can then tell him you love him, so many people say they regret it because they never.

Peace to your father, your family and you.


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