I have heard that if a care recipient is basically non-responsive, that the right decision is sometimes to withhold food and fluids, if death is imminent and no hope for recovery. I have heard from a couple of people that withholding fluids is painful to patient, even if they are non-responsive.
I am trying to educate myself before we get to that point, so am not in a position to discuss with her Doctor yet. Her patient advocate paperwork is clear about food, but doesn't mentions fluids.

Thanks for your input. This forum has been a great educational and supportive resource.

Are you a professional caregiver or do you anticipate providing end of life care by yourself? When death is imminent and there's no hope for recovery, it's time for hospice. In fact, it sounds like it's long overdue. You ARE in a position to ask her doctor to refer her to hospice. This is not a situation where you have to learn about end of life care before deciding to act. Can you administer morphine, monitor her vital signs, provide suction when phlegm builds up? The role of a hospice team is to preserve dignity and comfort in a patient's final days. It's time.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to sjplegacy

My mom recently died in a hospice house. I just went through watching the dying process. It’s hard but I am relieved that she is no longer suffering. She was ready to leave this world.

The dying are NOT hungry. They are NOT thirsty. They are spoon fed ice chips for as long as they are able to swallow.

When they cannot swallow any longer, a swap is placed in their mouth to moisten it.

No one is being starved. No one has anxiety or pain if receiving care from hospice because the program is all about dying with dignity and free from anxiety and pain.

Mom was given Ativan and morphine every two hours towards the end. She died peacefully.

Wishing you peace as you navigate your way through your caregiving challenges. Continue to reach out with any concerns. We care. I will certainly keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
ccarson30 May 26, 2021
I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time. Watching our parents age is so hard and losing them is even harder.
It's my feeling that whether it's food or fluids you should give them what they ask for when they are alert enough to ask, but it's very unlikely they will actually eat or drink more than a mouthful. If you're non responsive - unconscious - you aren't going to be thirsty (or hungry), and trying to pour water into someone in that state is going to cause harm. If they are awake of semi awake they can be offered (not forced) ice chips, tiny sips or spoons of water but as MJ1929 has said that feeling of thirst is more likely related to the feeling of dry mouth, which can be relieved with swabs or other products.
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Reply to cwillie

Food is not "withheld". If the person requests it they are given it. When the body is shutting down they don't feel hunger or thirst. And its not painful. Swallowing is the first to go. All part of the dying process. My Mom shut her eyes and refused to get out of bed. I called hospice in. I think it maybe time for you too to call them in.
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Reply to JoAnn29

If someone is thirsty, they'll take fluids. What you don't do is force them -- or food --and you don't give them via IV if the person doesn't want artificial means of keeping them alive.

The concern is choking more than anything, so you can get many products over the counter to help fight dry mouth if your loved one isn't taking in any fluids.

My dad had cancer, and he couldn't get anything "past" his mouth after a while, almost as though something was preventing him from swallowing. He didn't have choking issues; he just couldn't seem to arrange whatever was in his mouth to swallow it. His biggest complaint, though, wasn't hunger or thirst, but the dry mouth drove him nuts. We got the mouthwash and the gel that comes in a tube and found the gel to be the most effective and longer-lasting.

Please look into hospice care, though, and don't wait too long. Their nurses are the best thing to have in your corner at that time.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to MJ1929

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