Your grandmother has been diagnosed with two diseases that affect both her heart and her lungs. Both conditions are using up her energy by making breathing, which we take for eating requires a lot of energy; and, it is difficult to eat when you can’t breathe! She probably is “short of breath” and has trouble moving about.
granted, extremely difficult for her. She needs to sleep more just to restore her body. The loss of the desire to eat could simply illustrate that
Both COPD and CHF have various stages. If your grandmother is not in the final stages of either disease, she may live a while longer. If she is in the final stages, her body may be preparing itself for approaching death by illustrating the change in sleep patterns, loss of energy, and loss of desire to eat. If her heart disease is not too bad, her lung disease alone may show many ups and downs.
When a person is at the end of their life we see certain patterns. Sleeping more and having no energy results from fighting a disease process for a long time. As death nears, a person can no longer metabolize foods like you or I can—hence, they lose their appetite and desire to eat. Breathing changes which sometimes can sound rough or coarse are also heard. People may withdraw or seem disoriented or confused. Not being able to control the bladder or bowels is expected. In essence, the body is starting to “shut down.” All this is natural.
This is not a phase your grandmother is going through. This is simply nature’s way of preparing for the end. I cannot predict how lengthy this process will be, but we say that when families start to see changes from month to month, people may have only months to live. When they see changes from week to week, then generally we are down to weeks. When the changes (decline) appear daily, then we are looking at days. Remember, we are all unique—we will die just as uniquely as we lived. Celebrate this special time with your grandmother—care giving, while difficult, can be the most rewarding activity you will ever do!