Food and Nutrition in a Hospice Care Facilities
There are different ways that a hospice care facility may care for the food and nutritional needs of a terminally ill patient. Not only is the hospice involved in making the patient more comfortable, but also it's also important to tend to the needs of nutrition and hydration for any terminally ill person.
Often a hospice care facility will use artificial nutrition and hydration to keep the patient more comfortable. When foods and liquids are longer comfortable for the patient to consume by mouth, artificial feeding and hydration can begin. Intravenous administration or an IV administration of liquids and nutrients is a simple tube inserted under the skin and into a vein of the terminally ill patient. This will allow a continual drip of nutrients into the body. Keeping the patient hydrated, and full of nutrients in order to be comfortable throughout the terminally ill period.
Other types of artificial nutrition may be in the form of a tube through the mouth and into the stomach. The patient often refuses this type of nutrition due to the fact that they cannot speak while being fed. While nutrients and hydration is important for the terminally ill patient it's also important that they be able to die with dignity and respect.
There are a few problems that can arise with artificial nutrition. Some patients may experience swelling, diarrhea, bloating, or an uncomfortable feeling at the artificial nutrition site. According to the terminal illness the patient is experiencing the nutritional system may differ, and each patient may have different symptoms and different problems with artificial nutrition.
While nutrition and hydration is a hospice basic, it's also important that the patient be able to die with respect and dignity. So when it is no longer comfortable for artificial nutrition to be delivered to the patient via differing means, it is the family and the patient's choice whether to stop nutritional feeding.
There are several different ways to patient can suspend artificial nutrition and hydration. If the patient is coherent and can make the decision themselves, the patient's wishes are usually adhered to. If the patient is no longer coherent, there will be a guardian or guardian ad litem or possibly even a power attorney to help make the decisions as to artificial hydration and nutrition. For many, the pain, and discomfort of the last days may cause artificial hydration and nutrition to be withdrawn, especially if the actual feeding and hydration is causing more pain and discomfort.
It's important when choosing a hospice care facility that you thoroughly research their pain management, artificial nutrition and hydration procedures, as well as the patient's wishes, family wishes, or even guardian ad litem wishes.