Changing Appetite at End of Life

| By Jodi Horton

Over the course of your illness, it is natural that appetite will decline. We believe it is important for loved ones and caregivers to follow the patient’s lead regarding diet. When the patient has an appetite, he or she may enjoy favorite and/or easily digestible foods. Here are a few suggestions for how caregivers can increase the satisfaction of a meal.

Caregivers should prepare and serve foods requested by the patient when possible.

Pain medications can be scheduled to increase comfort at mealtimes.

As a caregiver, create a pleasant eating environment for the patient, sharing meals together if possible and desired.

The focus should be on quality, not quantity. Just a taste of a favorite food may satisfy.

As a caregiver, consider offering foods more frequently and in smaller portions so as not to overwhelm the patient.

Soft foodsExperiment with soft and pleasing foods such as milkshakes, yogurt, puddings, ice cream, sorbet, and soft fruits and vegetables.

However, know that as the patient’s illness progresses, there may come a time when he or she no longer desires food or fluids. This is often nature’s way of preparing us for the end of life. Forcing food and drink can cause physical discomfort when the body is no longer able to process them.

If you have more questions about nutrition and appetite at the end of life, speak to your hospice nurse about your concerns.

Casa de la Luz Hospice provides hospice care to residents of Tucson, Marana, and Oro Valley and southern Pinal County. If you or someone you know might benefit from our services, call 520.544.9890 to schedule a free evaluation with one of our nurses.

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