The terminally ill elderly: Dealing with the ethics of feeding

S. H. Miles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


In the past, when dying patients were cared for at home, sips of broth to the limits of satiety offered by a family member fulfilled the moral obligation to feed and to care. Today, when 75% of anticipated deaths occur in institutions, the questions arises: Is invasive life-sustaining nourishment ethically mandated? The clinical queston facing physicians is not whether to offer food, but what course to take when a patient ingests too little to sustain life. The following case history raises two principal ethical issues: When does life-sustaining medical alimentation become elective? What is the justification of 'symbolic' feeding in the palliative care of dying patients?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-120
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes


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