Last Days and Hours: Decreased Intake

Decreasing intake in hospice palliative care is common in the last days and hours of life.

This podcast explores why intake decreases, the psychosocial implications of decreased intake for family and ways to assist family and patients to manage these changes.


  • 0’00” Introduction
  • 0’45” The way intake can change.
  • 1’11” First changes can ‘open the door’ to talking about the other changes that may occur.
  • 2’20” How to gently introduce the topic of decreased intake.
  • 3’00” Being a good caregiver often means “feeding the patient” to family.
  • 5’00” Questions to ask when family are struggling with decreasing intake.
  • 8’00” Food that works for different members of family at different times of life.
  • 9’20” Using different images to connect with family and help them understand decreased intake.
  • 10’00” Understanding the changes in intake is incredibly difficult emotionally.
  • 13’00” Having input and support from an “outside” person, e.g. hospice palliative care, can often shift the understanding.
  • 14’20” “What I’ld really like is a great big juicy steak”
  • 16’00” Another piece of pizza.
  • 18’15” Mouth care can help with decreasing intake.
  • 19’20” Forgetting to swallow requires medical attention.
  • 21’00” Preventing dry mouth.

Chapter 4, Last Days and Hours, Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care, 2nd Edition, Katherine Murray, 2009.

Study Guide for HCW, Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care Workbook, 2009.

Study Guide for Nurses, Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care Workbook, 2009.

Written and preformed by Kath Murray and Elizabeth Causton, All Rights Reserved. Life and Death Matters, 2010.