How Long Can an Elderly Person Live Without Food?

An elderly person can live approximately three weeks without food, according to Dina Spector for Business Insider. However, there are additional factors to consider when determining how long a person can survive without food. These factors include age, weight and hydration levels.

There is a bit of precedent established to determine how long an elderly person can live without food. For instance, Mahatma Gandhi, a renowned civil rights activist, lived for 21 days without food, according to Scientific American. Gandhi did, however, take occasional sips of water while he was undertaking this fasting period. Twenty-one days without food is not considered the longest period. Irish prisoners, as a sign of revolt against British military forces, survived a duration somewhere between 46 and 73 days without food consumption.

While a person needs food to survive, Canadian Virtual Hospice states that fluid intake is the more important basic need that is essential for survival. A person’s body has the capability of adjusting its metabolism to account for a decrease in food intake. However, a lack of necessary fluids, specifically water, leads to abnormal kidney function. Other body organs suffer from the dehydration as well, resulting in immune system failure and eventually death.