Thoughts to consider
Artificial nutrition and hydration allow someone to receive fluids and/or nutrition if they are not able to eat or drink by mouth. Decisions about artificial hydration and nutrition are complicated and difficult to discuss, especially when facing sensitive decisions related to end of life care.
Although it may be terribly difficult to consider, it is important to note that these treatments will not return a person to health if their body is beginning to not function properly or even stop functioning because of a terminal illness. Individuals who are dying may even experience worsening symptoms with artificial nutrition or hydration because their body becomes unable to process the food or fluids properly.
Some complications related to artificial nutrition and hydration at end-of-life include bloating, cramping, diarrhea or constipation, risk of infection, and difficulty breathing. It is also important to consider that artificial nutrition and hydration do not provide the physical or emotional comfort that we associate with eating and drinking.
Comforting your loved one
There are many other ways to offer comfort to someone who is unable to eat, drink, or tolerate artificial nutrition and hydration. Your hospice team is able to help you and your family identify and provide these comfort interventions. For more information, please contact a member of your care team.