Imagine you’re laying in bed feeling rotten, you’re half asleep and you open your eyes to someone advancing at you from above with an over-sized Q-tip which tastes of synthetic mint or sweet fake lemon. Mmmmm you’d open right up huh?
For many, those swabs we hand out as if they’re delicious lollipops are something they’ll soon clamp their mouth closed to – and that’s actually pretty natural. We tend to project our own discomforts on someone in the Dying process and the body actually secretes it’s own endorphins that counteract many of the discomforts people would experience from not eating and drinking at the end of life. However, until that kicks in and sometimes regardless, dry mouth is an issue and it’s a difficult one.
So here are a few tips:
Try dipping the swabs in water or juice or any favored (and flavored) drink (their favorite, not yours) – pop them in the freezer for a bit before using. Cold and wet is often even better, especially if it’s hot out!
Try coating them with virgin coconut oil and raw honey. Test it yourself – it’s actually rather refreshing and nice and it leaves a lingering taste and residue that keeps the tongue exploring to the roof of the mouth which can encourage salivation.
Scoop some fresh cold fruit (melon works best) with a spoon or melon baller. Make sure to keep the balls small enough to move inside the mouth but big enough to not be a choking hazard! Put on the end of a chop stick (don’t use anything with a pointed end that could jab through and poke the inside of the mouth, you can also order lollipop sticks or use the other end of a swab!)
Make ice cubes of flavored juice or water – many stores sell the ice cube trays with rounded silicone bottoms – fill them only a little and make a semi-circle. You can stick in a lollipop stick from a local craft store or ordered from Amazon if you’re concerned about choking. (You can actually use this method for disguising liquid medications as well – just keep your medicated ice labeled and secure! I do recommend a sweeter juice for this – as we age we taste salty and sweet less and bitter more. Gram always got raspberry – I’d drain the juice off a bag of frozen raspberries into the ice cube tray. )
Try soaking cucumber slices In lemon water, add a little mint if you like, you can use fresh or food grade essential oil. Lemon triggers salivation, mint soothes the stomach and freshens the mouth.
There’s also biotene which is available at many drug stores. I often recommend to stay away from the tablets as they can be choking hazards. The spray can be great but I usually recommend spraying it on a swab or cloth and wiping the mouth with it.
If the person can’t tolerate any liquid intake but is awake enough to not have to worry about choking – the cool of sucking on plastic ice cubes (you know the ones that don’t dilute your drink) can at least be refreshing. Otherwise teething rings are an option too.
Yes, I have tried these things, and more. You see at the point that someone you love is unable to swallow a drop of liquid without vomiting and is miserable from dry mouth – you’ll try anything – and I mean anything.
To save you the headache, I will mention, Athena’s Wet Head Dry Mouth spray seemed like a brilliant idea one night. Juicy apple, sure, why not! Well – let’s just say I hope it’s better for its indicated use.
Now I hope you’re laughing….and that one of these gems works for you should you ever need it. If you have more suggestions please drop me a line! I love learning new ways to ease symptoms and passing them on to others!
Just remember tho, if someone is refusing and closing their mouth, please don’t force, it’s likely that the dry mouth isn’t bothering them as much as it is you. Ask and offer but then respect wishes!