Types of Enteral Feeds for Hospice Patients


Nutrition plays a pivotal role in everyone’s life. In hospice, however, a patient usually loses the energy and appetite for eating and drinking. The reduced fluid and food intake can also be linked to some of the drugs which cause a decreased appetite in these patients. Though this is expected, it is overwhelming for a patient’s loved ones to handle. Poor nutrition is one of the key contributors to the hastened demise of hospice patients. As such, ensuring that a patient is well-fed throughout is essential.

This is a feat that only a hospice care center in Indiana can achieve. One of the methods used to maintain a patient’s nutrition support is enteral feeding. Here, food and fluids are directly introduced into the patient’s small intestine or stomach commonly through a feeding tube inserted in the mouth. The following are some of the kinds of food that can be used for enteral feeding of hospice care patients.

Blenderized Food

This is one of the cheapest options available for enteral feeding. Blenderized food is delivered through feeding tubes of a large diameter since it has large food chunks that might block tubes with small diameters. Utmost care is taken when preparing the food to guarantee that it is not contaminated; otherwise, it might further affect the health of the hospice patient. Blenderized food is generally used for patients with only a loss of appetite and no specific dietary restrictions or needs.

Polymeric Food

This is a commercial kind of food that comes in varying levels of energy, fat, protein, vitamin, fiber, water, and energy. Whole proteins in the feed provide about 500 g/l of nitrogen and 1 kcal/ml of energy. Most polymeric feeds are also gluten- and lactose-free and have different macro and micronutrients to prevent specific deficiencies. The feeds are used for patients with a near-normal or normal bowel function.

Elemental Food

This is also a commercial kind of food. Elemental feeds have pre-digested proteins or pure amino acids that deliver amino acids and oligopeptides for bodybuilding in hospice patients and minimize the risk of body wasting. These feeds are quite expensive. Thus, they are generally only used for patients with an extensive impairment of their gastrointestinal absorption and digestive functions.

Disease-Specific Food

Hospice patients eating

Toward the end of life of hospice patients, they are plagued with various diseases due to their decreased immunity. As such, a disease-specific feed becomes essential for their nutritional support. Patients with renal problems, for instance, will benefit from renal-specific diets, which place a minimal strain on their kidneys.

Most people shun hospice care in the belief that it entails some elements that are needless and only out to increase a patient’s care expenses. However, the types of enteral feeds mentioned above are in no way unnecessary. They might, in fact, be the primary element that prolongs your loved one’s life and guarantees his or her comfort. Some people might assume that they will walk into a pharmacy, buy the feeds, and then give them to patients at the end of their lives. Enteral feeding is not this easy. As such, it should be administered by a trained hospice caregiver, whether at home or in a hospice center.

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