Eating plays a large role in our lives. We often associate eating with some of our fondest memories, such as birthdays, reunions or holidays. Food is vital to not only keep us alive, but for us to socialise. Thus, food should be used to bring comfort for our loved ones. However, many individuals have a hard time accepting nutritional changes that occur at the end of life. Many family members often have misconceptions when one is nearing end-of-life that their loved ones do not need to eat or do not have much options for food. They often express feelings of guilt when their loved ones are not eating and drinking.
Knowing what to expect when someone is approaching the end of life can make the transition easier for both you and your loved one.
People with advanced illness often lose their appetite, and there are many reasons:
Nausea and vomiting
Changes in taste receptors
Depression or Confusion
Constipation or diarrhoea
Sore and dry in the mouth or throat Sore, dry mouth or throat.
Additionally, these nutritional problems can arise from:
Medications which cause drowsiness or changes in the taste receptors.
Stomach illnesses or other medical issues that cause stomach discomforts.
Gum and denture problems which affects chewing.
Towards the end of one’s life, the physical body no longer work the same way. Therefore, eating and drinking serves a different purpose in palliative care. In End-of-Life, the goal of food is not about survival but more about comfort and enjoyment. For example,
Relief from symptoms such as dry mouth
Relief from pain and discomfort
The simple enjoyment of food
The social bonding that accompanies eating
If Your Loved One Is Able to Eat
There will be times when your loved one has an appetite, and other times when food turns them off. Take advantage of the “good” times; prepare their favourite foods and freeze the leftovers for another time.
Consider frozen meals which are quick to plate . These are useful when your loved one’s appetite is erratic and you don’t have time to prepare a meal.
How can Food help? – Delisoft Meals
Do you know that even though your loved one is receiving end-of-life care, they are still able to consume their favourite food? Health Food Matters develops Delisoft meals to enable your loved one to consume their favourite local dishes like laksa or chicken rice. Delisoft meals come in different textures – 1 regular texture and 3 special textures (Chopped/Easy Chew, Minced/Soft & Moist, and Blended/Pureed) to suit individuals with different chewing/ swallowing ability. Find out more about the different textures and which one suits your loved one more here.
Delisoft Meals Menu
Health Food Matters offer a wide variety of food options for your loved ones to satisfy their cravings. Here are some examples of their menu. Click on them to find out more!
Other than main meals, try keeping small snacks handy for nibbling. Try small biscuits, yoghurt, muffins, nuts, buns, pao, sandwiches and ready to eat desserts and puddings.
Serving smaller meal portions often can be less intimidating and prevent your loved one from feeling too full as it could cause discomfort.
Let your loved one enjoy their daily dose of tea and coffee but also encourage other liquids or snacks which are more nutrient dense such as fruit or vegetable smoothies, juices or jellies. These liquids are also better at keeping the mouth moist and body hydrated.
What Happens if My Loved One is Constipated?
If they get constipated easily, consider a fibre supplement to ease their bloating and tummy upsets.
Sunfiber (also known as PHGG- partially hydrolysed guar gum) is unique because It reduces constipation AND manages occasional diarrhoea. This is because Sunfiber is a pre-biotic that restores the balance of microflora in your intestines. It also has other benefits like lowering cholesterol benefits and treating the symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
What happens if My Loved One Doesn’t Wish to Eat?
When someone is nearing the end of life, it is natural for their body to slow down and require less energy. Do not force your loved one to eat when they do not want to because it will make them feel worse.
They should eat and drink when they want to, and when they feel they can.
Try and keep mealtimes with your loved one pleasurable so that they don’t see food in a negative way.
Try offering other kinds of support such as a gentle massage, music and spending more time conversing with them.
It’s easy for people in palliative care to get dry mouths, so try and assist them with regular mouth care. (See Tips for Mouth Care)
Tips for Oral Care:
After eating, ensure that your loved one maintains his or her oral hygiene. Here are some oral care tips you can try:
About Health Food Matters
At Health Food Matters the team of healthcare experts, chef, and food technologist develop scrumptious Delisoft Easy Meals which are nutritious and they come in different textures. We also carry a range of snacks and desserts from Our Special Pantry to provide a much needed boost for those who struggle with getting enough nutrition daily.
Health Food Matters carries a large selection of nourishing snacks, desserts and thickeners which can be grabbed off the shelf anytime. Visit their website for more information about their wide variety of food options to satisfy your loved ones taste buds.
At Jaga-Me we believe in making healthcare accessible and available to everyone. We provide personalised and curated care for your loved ones. If you need a trained nurse to do professional medical procedures or simply someone to accompany you If you need a trained medical escort to accompany your loved ones for their medical appointments or a trained nurse to do nursing procedures, you can engage our care services.