Eating and drinking are significant aspects of various cultures, but when a person is ill and not fully alert, feeding them can lead to harm. A real-life scenario from 2022 illustrates the dangers of force-feeding a dying loved one. , where fluids enter the lungs, is a common risk for such patients. Feeding tubes are also problematic, as they can cause fluid overload and pneumonia, speeding up the dying process.

Importance of Alertness When Feeding Sick Individuals

Eating and drinking are crucial in many cultures, especially when sick. However, this approach is suitable only if the person is awake, alert, and capable of gauging fullness. Feeding should be avoided if a person is unconscious or appears awake but not alert. A real-life incident in mid-2022 highlights the negative consequences of force-feeding an unconscious, dying person.

The Dangers of Force-Feeding

A facility nurse's message recounts a distressing event where a family member force-fed fluids to an unconscious patient. This led to aspiration, with the patient's oxygen saturation dropping to critical levels. Aspiration, where substances enter the lungs, is common in dying patients when prioritize feeding over the patient's condition. Remembering that unconscious individuals are asleep and should not be fed is vital.

Considerations with Feeding Tubes

Feeding tubes, while not grounds for hospice disqualification, pose high risks near the end of life. Fluid overload (hypervolemia) is a significant concern due to the lack of clear guidelines for quantities. As a result, patients have died faster from caused by excessive feeding through the tube. Witnessing patients on feeding tubes experience distress akin to waterboarding is deeply distressing.


Feeding sick individuals requires careful consideration of their alertness and condition. Force-feeding unconscious patients can lead to aspiration and worsen their condition. Feeding tubes, though allowed in , carry high risks, including fluid overload and . Prioritizing patient comfort and understanding their state is essential in end-of-life care.

If your loved one is not awake and alert with a terminal illness, please do not push fluids or food if your goal is for them to pass with comfort and peace. They are not being starved or dehydrated to death. This is all a part of the natural dying process at the end of life.


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