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Not eating 
Started by Springday
28 Jul 2013, 5:08 AM

Hi. I'm looking for some insight and suggestions. Mom has been in hospice for coming up 5 weeks...she first went in just to get the pain managed but all the narcotics have caused nausea and vomitting and diarrhea that she has since lost 15 lbs and is so week...can't even lift her own legs up onti the bed (and she drove herself there 5 weeks ago)...and now she is so drugged up that she can't/ won't eat. I think the nausea is better but I think she just forgets to eat or is too tired to eat...says its easier to just sleep...but without some nutrition she will continue to weaken and die. Her disease process is not that close to end days but the not eating will kill her and this worries me...i don't want her to just give up and waste away.:(
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Reply by moderator | modératrice
29 Jul 2013, 1:22 AM

Hi Springday,

I'm eager to read what others have to share about not eating. It is a complicated issue both medically, culturally and emotionally.

Questions around nutrition and eating at end of life are often submitted to our clinical team on Ask a Professional. In fact, you may wish to ask them specific questions about your mom's situation yourself. 

While waiting for answers from the team and hearing from others experiences here on this discussion forum, you may also wish to read our "Asked and Answered" questions on nutrition. Our team has answered questions like:
 


They have also written the following articles:

This may seem like an overwhelming number of links to read, but most of the pages are quite short. I hope this helps.

Anyone have first-hand experiences to share with Springday? 
 

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Reply by marstin
29 Jul 2013, 1:22 AM

Have you tried meal replacement drinks? My husband suffered from the same effects when they put him on Methadone. What do they have your mom on? Unfortunately, there isn't much else you can do.  Have you talked to the nurses in hospice to see what they can think of? Sometimes even a popsicle might draw some interest but you can't force anyone to eat.  The body has a way of deciding whether it will allow a person to eat or drink. I know how difficult it is to want to force them to eat and be frustrated by them appearing to not even try. My thoughts are with you.

Hugs,
Tracie
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Reply by Springday
12 Aug 2013, 8:51 PM

8 weeks later and mom is still not eating or drinking much and I can see the discouragement and defeat in her eyes each time a meal tray comes- she tries at every meal and just can't seem to take much more than a couple bites. She feels like she is letting us down I think because we all know that without food and drink one cannot sustain life or fight cancer or withstand chemo. I still find myself encouraging her to eat and drink and feeling frustrated when she can't ... As much as I say the words that i am not holding on, maybe part of me still is...maybe I need to just tell her it's ok if she doesn't feel like eating rather than running through a list of suggestions of food that might appeal to her...the weight loss and not eating/ drinking seems to be a common source of distress for both patients and families...I would love any thoughts, suggestions around this ...thank you :)
 
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Reply by marstin
12 Aug 2013, 10:06 PM

Hi Springday,

I understand the frustration you have about the food and drink. I went through it first with my husband then weeks later with my mom.  I wish I could offer you encouragement on this but unfortunately the body does what it wants to do and no amount of suggestions can make a person eat or drink. I remember how hard my mom tried to please us by taking an occasional mouthful of something but even that was difficult for her. Of course you are trying to hold on, it's your mom. Now is probably the time to just enjoy being with her and try to push aside the concern about food and drink. She's not trying to upset you, she truly isn't able to take nourishment in. All I can suggest is that you hug her, love her and pamper her so that at the end of the day these are the memories that will stay in your heart.

Sending you big hugs,
Tracie
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Reply by moderator | modératrice
13 Aug 2013, 12:53 AM

Tracie, your words "Now is probably the time to just enjoy being with her and try to push aside the concern about food and drink." seem very wise to me.

In fact, Springday, that is what our team of experts advised another community member here. They wrote in Asked and Answered:

"
It’s hard to resist trying to care for your father by helping him eat. If, like many people in advanced stages of illness, he doesn’t have an appetite, then it may be more valuable for you to care for him in other ways. This may include reading to your dad, helping keep his mouth moist, massaging his feet, or doing something with him that he enjoys." 
 
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Reply by JennJilks
13 Aug 2013, 1:19 AM

I agree with Stacie and Colleen.
You cannot force someone to eat.
The liquid supplements are often quite good.

Have you had Cesamet recommended for the pain?  I took a client in to the pain clinic, and if you can afford it, it is often a good alternatie, which they recommended.

You want Mom comfortable , with a good quality of life. Eating might not be something she can do right now. 

Disease trajectory is something your nurse can help you understand. This is a normal part of many diseases, and there may be little you can do for her, other than to ensure that she is out of pain. I pratically force fed my dad his meat and veggies, when all he wanted was his dessert. 
In hindsight, it was a mistake, as he did WANT solid food! I should have just listened to him.
All the best.
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Reply by Springday
13 Aug 2013, 1:38 AM

thank you all so much for your advise...much appreciated. And yes I need to just love her and nurture her right now in what ever way I can.
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