QUICK ANSWER PLEASE: Do hospices routinely withhold nutrition and hydration from a patient?

Hospice has no hard and fast rules nationwide (US). Acceptance varies @ (expected death) from immanent, to three years (YMMV). There are always exceptions to ANY rule concerning qualification…

Then once in the “system”, how long one is permitted to remain, is again…??? (YMMV).
Exceptions to any “rules” are rare. Normally folks (in my world) admitted to hospice are dead in a matter of less than two weeks.

Missed edit window.
“Exceptions to any “rules” are rare.” should read:

"Exceptions to any “rules” are common.

“full and worthwhile until the end”??? From where do you derive this notion? Perhaps because you feel it’s " important to those who work in the hospice movement"…

**I will split hairs here ** and inform you that a hospice patient’s death is not about the “hospice movement”… or YOU… or anyone else that envisions their import into the matter… It is about the patient who, by any standard, is more concerned with the act of dying than say, ensuring your edification that: “life is full and worthwhile” at that moment. They are trying to die, give them a break.

You are going through a rough time in life, and it’s easy to misunderstand.

Most people are unfamiliar with death these days, and aren’t aware that towards the end people can simply stop being hungry or thirsty. Other body systems and organs are shutting down, why not thirst and hunger? If food or water is requested by someone in hospice it will be given, but it will not be forced on someone or contrary to an advanced directive, the patient’s wishes or, if the patient is incapable, against the wishes of the person authorized to make medical decisions on his/her behalf.

I would think that hospices tiptoe around any implication that they “ease death” for fear of aggravating, legally or otherwise, groups who think such concepts are part of the right-to-die “agenda”.

Back to the OP, I know an elderly woman who is still distraught that a hospice allowed her husband to “starve to death”, while simultaneously being able to recount that during his last days at home prior to entering hospice care he showed no interest in food or water. My mom has tried to gently explain that loss of interest in eating and drinking is a completely normal part of dying, but this poor woman still seems wracked with guilt.

I’m sorry you’re in such a difficult situation.

As others have said, hospices are about the patient passing away with dignity and as little pain / discomfort as possible.

My mother had terminal bowel cancer and faced a horrible future. After she spoke with her wonderful doctor she took the option of a painless death within a week in the local hospice.
As I recall, she only had painkillers, but no food (possibly sips of water.)
She had family and friends visit daily and was happy.
She passed peacefully in her sleep.

Only for people who have problems comprehending English. When I said “ease death” what I meant was “attempt to make the period of time during which a patient is inevitability and unavoidably dying as painless and comforting as reasonably possible for the patient and the family”, not “kill them.”

The day my grandmother died, my parents were there when she told them she was too tired to go to the nursing home cafeteria for lunch, and when they brought a tray, she ate only a few bites, and then fell asleep. By the time my parents got home, she had died at age 91. I’m sure many of us have had similar experiences with pets.

Many years ago, I worked with a man who had a bone marrow transplant for a type of leukemia for which this was the only treatment at the time. It didn’t work, and when he was brought home and enrolled in hospice, he asked for a fresh tomato and some ice cream, two foods that he could not have in the BMT unit. I also remember that after he was put on high dose morphine, they always had two nurses on site, to make sure nobody tried any not-funny stuff. I’ve definitely heard other stories about people who had been on restricted diets who requested things they couldn’t previously have when they entered hospice.

(And then there are the doctors who still keep on prescribing drugs for things like osteoporosis and high cholesterol. :smack: )

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my career is to never overestimate listening/reading comprehension skills. I think it was perfectly clear what you meant; however, I’ve found that some people can be quick to infer whatever they like from seemingly innocent or straightforward statements, especially when under great pressure or stress.


Bingo, bolding mine.