Thursday, November 12, 2015

For Mom or for Me?

Lately Mom has been sleeping even more and wanting to eat even less. Those changes are a natural part of moving toward the end of a life well-lived.
My sweet Mom is sleeping on the couch. If they allowed her to nap in bed, she might wake up, get up and fall.
As she sleeps more, they will let her be comfortable in bed.
We watched as Mom took care of Daddy through this stage. She was with him every day from breakfast to dinner, feeding him all three meals because he was not able to do it himself. Although deep in the pit of Alzheimer’s the day came when Daddy firmly closed his lips and wouldn’t allow Mom to give him a bite. As it continued, Mom became concerned and allowed them to put in a feeding tube. He eventually began eating a bit again and the tube was removed but that experience told Mom that she would never make him do something again. It was his choice not to eat and she had taken that choice away.

The next time Daddy closed his mouth and refused to eat, Mom accepted his decision. Although she possibly didn’t realize it at the time, his refusal was a natural part of the end of life process. You might think “process??” because I am talking about a living being but the body has its own processes.

The National Institute of Health tells us “People at the end of life sometimes suffer from nausea, vomiting, constipation, and loss of appetite.” They explain further:

“Losing one’s appetite is a common and normal part of dying -- eating near the end of life may actually cause more discomfort than not eating. A conscious decision to give up food and/or water can be part of a person’s acceptance that death is near.

Providing liquids or feedings via tubes in veins or in the stomach does not relieve hunger or thirst, so this is not recommended near the end of life. These types of treatments can also cause discomfort rather than helping the person feel better.”

As the body begins to slow and shut down its normal functions, we can actually cause our loved one pain by insisting that they eat. They naturally have no desire to eat because their body is telling them it is shutting down their digestive system.

It’s hard to understand that our loved one isn’t “starving to death”. tells us “Remember, the person is not dying because she is not eating. She has stopped eating because she is dying. Starving is an emotionally loaded word that usually refers to someone who wants food and would eat it if he had some. But a person who has stopped eating and drinking has actually simply begun the natural process of dying. These persons rarely feel hungry and sometimes even the smell or thought of food is nauseating. “

So, as Mom is sleeping more and more and eating less and less, it is important to ask ourselves, “Am I doing this for Mom or am I doing this for me?”

Let’s let Mom decide.

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