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Reduced Appetite

The person’s appetite is likely to be very reduced.

They may no longer wish to eat or drink anything. This could be because they find the effort of eating or drinking to be too much. But it may also be because they have little or no need or desire for food or drink. Eventually, the person will stop eating and drinking, and will not be able to swallow tablets.

should you be worried?

If a person stops eating or drinking because of their reduced appetite, this may be hard to accept, but it is a normal part of the dying process. If they stop drinking, their mouth may look dry, but this does not always mean they are dehydrated. It is normal for all dying people eventually to stop eating and drinking.

is there anything you can do to help?

If the person is conscious and they want something to eat or drink, you can offer sips, provided they can still swallow. You can give some comfort to a person with a dry mouth by:
  • offering a drink through a straw (or from a teaspoon or syringe)
  • moistening the mouth with a damp sponge – special kinds of sponge are available for this purpose (the person may bite on this at first, but keep holding it, as they will let go) placing ice chips in the mouth
  • applying lip balm

Your doctor may prescribe an oral gel that is used to help moisten the person’s lips and mouth.

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