By Grane Hospice Staff
It is natural for us as caregivers to want to try to feed our loved ones when they are not feeling well. It is like Mom making chicken noodle soup to help us feel better as children. When we see our loved ones beginning to turn away from food, taking only small bites or sips of food, we, naturally, want to encourage them to eat. The same can be said when someone is no longer able to swallow and the doctor brings up the topic “tube feeding”. Or, perhaps, you have a loved one already receiving tube feeding.
It is important to understand as our loved one begins the active journey of passing, the body no longer needs or desires food. There is often a gradual decrease in wanting food, eating less, or asking for something and then not eating it. Food is no longer needed for energy so the body has a harder time digesting food. It is okay not to eat or drink.
If tube feedings are in place, it is often a difficult task to stop them. Similarly, when the body is no longer wanting solid food, tube feedings become harder to digest and tolerate. In these cases, follow the recommendations of the hospice nurse or medical professionals when they begin to explain the signs that the feedings are no longer being tolerated. This will help comfort your loved one. Making the decision to stop feedings can often be difficult, but understanding the process makes it easier.
If you feel as though withholding food, drink, or tube feedings are “starving” your loved one, please reach out to the medical staff, a clergy member, or consult with the Grane Hospice team to help answer your questions and to give you comfort during this difficult time.