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Nutrition for Hospice Care Patients

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By Shawn Turcotte
Owner of Home Instead Senior Care Edmonton, CPCA

Suggestions for Eating During Hospice Care

The dinner table represents family and relationship building. Many people probably remember enjoying Sunday dinners at Grandma’s where sitting at the kid’s table was mandated while adults chatted at the big table. There is no doubt that food has made a significant impact on socializing in society. Just think about gathering around the television for a hockey, football, or basketball game with tons of snacks and friends. Even birthdays are celebrated with sweets like cake and ice cream. There is no doubt about it; food generally conjures up happy thoughts and memories. Let’s not forget that we all need nourishment to survive, as well.

Hospice patients may not have the same need for food and drink that a healthy person does. So, how do you help your loved one who is facing a life-limiting illness? Caregivers from Home Instead Senior Care West Edmonton can assist you in ensuring your senior gets what they need during this time.

Suggestions for Eating During Hospice Care

A hospice patient nearing the end of their life has different needs for food. Often, favourite dishes taste different and not as appealing as they used to be. Or they have symptoms that limit their appetite. Use these suggestions to understand better and help your loved one’s nutritional needs:

  • Try not to struggle over food. With a doctor’s OK, let your mom or dad eat what they want, when they want. Their appetite will continue to decrease, so forcing food will often make a person in hospice care feel increased discomfort or nauseous. Their body will tell them what they need, so feed that need.
  • Take steps to encourage and not compel your parent to eat. You can help them eat with a few small steps, such as providing several small meals throughout the day. Make portions smaller to help them feel less guilty from not finishing their plate. When they no longer want to eat, keep ice chips handy to alleviate discomfort and dry mouths.
  • Utilize a blender when your hospice patient has trouble swallowing. As things progress, your mom may struggle to swallow food. Bring out the blender and puree dinner. You might also serve baby food with some additional spices and seasonings. It might be a good idea to give them liquid supplements as well.

Key Points to Remember for Hospice Caregiving

Those who are terminally ill do not feel hungry like those of us who are healthy. They may thirst more than they hunger. Please do not force food upon your dying loved one. Keep in mind that a decrease in food and drink can increase comfort. Here is why:

  • Food and beverages can increase bloating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Fluids increase the urine in the bladder. This may mean a urinary catheter needs to be inserted, or the person may have a painful struggle to use a bedpan.
  • There can be much discomfort from the cleaning and bedding being changed if the patient suffers from incontinence.

Hospice Care to Ensure Your Loved One Stays Comfortable

You do not have to struggle with the nutritional needs of your loved one alone. Get support through hospice care or respite care. There is no need to fight this caregiver battle alone. At Home Instead Senior Care, we work with you and your family on a custom-designed in-home care plan that benefits all family members.

Call us at (780) 439-9990 and book an in-home consultation today. If you’re looking for compassionate, quality home care for your senior loved one, our team of trained PSWs in West Edmonton is here to help.


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