Improving Quality Of Life For Patients With Terminal Illness Essay

Improving Quality Of Life For Patients With Terminal Illness Essay

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Palliative care is about maintaining and improving quality of life for patients with terminal illness. Optimal nutrition is one essential component to maintaining quality of life, especially in early stages of illness. Malnourishment has been found to be the cause of death for many cancer patients (Prevost & Grach, 2012). In addition, according to research by Dahele and Fearon (as cited in Prevost & Grach, 2012), lower quality of life scores have been reported in extremely ill and malnourished patients.
Mrs. Francis is a 78-year old female with stage IIIB large cell, undifferentiated lung cancer. This paper presents the case of “Mrs. Francis” and focuses on nutrition symptom management. Mrs. Francis’s daughter, Linda, is concerned about her mother’s minimal food intake and recent weight loss. The following section provides a process recording of dialogue between a palliative care nurse and Linda. Following the process recording, the paper will review symptom assessments, nursing interventions for nutrition, and a selected nutrition-related ethical issue.

Since the causes of cancer-related nutritional problems are multifactorial (Prevost & Grach, 2012), several symptom assessments are appropriate. Other relevant symptom assessments, to name a few, are cultural, spiritual, pain, respiratory, fatigue, neurological, and depression/anxiety. For instance, are any pain, respiratory, or depressive symptoms contributing to why she is not eating? High incidences of psychological disorders have been reported in malnourished patients (Prevost & Grach, 2012). Culturally and spiritually speaking, is the food being served to her in the hospital not in accommodation with any cultural rituals or spiritual beliefs? Food is not only an essential...


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...ts cessation. The patient may no longer be able to orally take in food, and the artificial means of feeding may worsen the patient’s quality of life. The concept of food cessation is often difficult for the patient’s friends and family to understand and accept, especially because food is essential to life, and eating is a sociocultural experience. Family must be reminded that to feed the patient may do more harm than good. However, until the time that oral intake stops, nurses must be providing other ways to increase the patient’s nutrient intake. The performance of symptom assessments and the development of plans of care should begin at the time of diagnosis and continue throughout the remainder of the patient’s life. These assessments and plans of care are both critical to preventing the onset of early malnutrition and to maintaining the patient’s quality of life.

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