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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    My mother is in palliative care. Why can't I give her water to drink?

    My 87 yr old mother had a stroke. She went back to the nursing home today from the hospital and now is receiving palliative care.

    My mother is aware and sometimes responds to people talking to her. She can say words but not see and her hearing is very bad.

    Today, she asked me for water. The Dr and nurses will not let me give to her. They say she can't swallow but I see no evidence of this.

    I believe my Mother can swallow. She has not had food or water for 3 days, only an iv drip to keep her hydrated. This was removed when she was transferred back to the Aged nursing home today.

    I am so anxious for my mother. She wants water but is only given mouth swabs. It is clearly not enough.

    Could I try giving her a tiny amount of water?

    I know she is at the end of her days but I cant bear the thought that she may die of thirst! She must be suffering if she is asking for water. She has no pain and is not on any treatment at all.
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  • 2


    Dr Sarah Visser

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Dr. Sarah Visser is a registered clinical psychologist who specialises in adult individual therapy. An experienced practitioner in a variety of areas such as depression, … View Profile

    Thank you for your question. I can hear that you are very worried about your mother and it seems that your overwhelming concern is for your mum’s wellbeing.

    I think it would be helpful to talk with the people caring for your mum about the rational for this approach, so you feel that everyone is working together to ensure she is as comfortable as possible. It sounds like the doctor and nurses are keeping your mother hydrated with an iv drip so that she isn’t dehydrated and the swabs help to keep her mouth moist. There may be risk associated with your mum drinking water, but a conversation may help you to way up the potential risks verses benefits of your mum drinking fluids.

    It is incredibly difficult when a person you love is unwell and under palliative care, and I can hear how anxious you are feeling at the moment. I encourage you to seek out information from those looking after your mum as well as accessing your own support systems at the moment.  

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