Questions and Answers
Q: Why does my loved one show disinterest or refuse to eat?
A: There are many reasons why your loved one may not desire to eat. Many of these reasons are a natural part of the body’s process of dying. Following is a short list of them:
Decreased metabolism/decreased appetite: As your loved one is less active, the body needs less food to survive. Therefore, your loved one’s appetite will also decrease.
Alterations in taste: The ability to taste may decline, alter, and eventually may not be there at all. When something does not taste good or is tasteless, eating may not be something that is enjoyed anymore.
Fatigue: Often people are more tired closer to the end of life. They may rather sleep than worry about eating.
Difficulty swallowing/decreased interest: The ability to swallow may become more difficult. If swallowing starts to become harder, your loved one may begin to cough more often. When eating becomes more of a chore than a pleasure, he/she may also lose interest in it.
Q: My loved one has a very dry mouth. What can I do to make him/her more comfortable?
A: As your loved one draws closer to death, the desire to drink liquids may also decrease. As time goes on, swallowing may also be painful. Often it even becomes more difficult to swallow liquids. There are a few things that you can do to help:
Mouth swabs: Hospice will provide you with soft mouth swabs to clean your loved one’s mouth.
Ice chips/juice cubes: If your loved one has a favorite type of juice, you may try putting it in an ice cube tray and offer the juice cubes to suck on. Small chips of ice may also moisten the mouth. (If swallowing is difficult, place ice chips or frozen juices in a washcloth and suck on the washcloth.)
Lemon drops/hard candy: Sucking on hand candy will increase the saliva in the mouth, making it less dry and sore.
Lip Balm: You can apply this to your loved one’s lips every two hours to moisten his/her lips and prevent cracking.