Myth: Hospice starves its patients at the end.

Food plays such an important role in our daily lives–and is at the center of so many family traditions–that it is difficult to see a loved one not eating or drinking near the end of life. However, as people decline, they often lose their appetites and don’t want to eat.

Some become so weak they have difficulty swallowing or develop a risk of choking. Some take only a syringe of liquid by mouth. By observing a loved one’s desire to eat and ability to swallow, you will know what type of nutrition is appropriate.

In some cases, people decline to the point that their body no longer tolerates food. Forcing someone in this state to eat can result in bloating, congestion, excessive swelling and nausea. When this occurs, it is important to remember that your loved one is not starving; he or she is dying from their disease. 

Not everything you hear about hospice care is true.