By Jack Halpern, CEO, My Elder Advocate Imbedded in today’s nursing home culture is a practice that has, unfortunately, been notoriously associated with elder abuse. Nationwide, many nursing home residents with advanced cognitive impairments are tube fed (up to 35 percent, according to some studies), despite no demonstrated benefits of such an intervention in this population. Feeding tube abuse in a substandard nursing home can be a death sentence. Thankfully, My Elder Advocate has been very successful in preventing this abuse from occurring in many cases when we have been called in early enough to advocate for clients losing weight and showing other signs of abuse. There are legitimate scenarios where feeding tube usage is recommended, such as when older adults in nursing homes have difficulty swallowing or when it is viewed as a precautionary measure to prevent aspiration pneumonia. Whether temporary or permanent, these situations require close monitoring in order to avoid potentially life-threatening complications, and it is not appropriate for use with all patients. Often, the first initial advocates for a patient in a nursing home are family members. Margaret Mino is one such family member, who noticed significant weight loss in her Uncle Rufus, now aged 89. Lifelong cognitive difficulties have meant that he always needed some form of help. In the last few years, though, Rufus has been unable to eat solid food. After Rufus lost more than thirty pounds, Margaret brought her concerns to nursing home staff. When a temporary feeding tube was suggested, Margaret was hesitant, after facing a...