Hospice staff will help define nutritional goals that may change during this time. The staff will assist the caregivers and patients to define ways to provide comfort through revised nutritional care planning and intake.
The importance of food and nutrition at the end of life
At this time, the purpose of food is enjoyment more than nutrition. Food is the fuel that the body needs to restore energy and rebuild body tissues. When the body is no longer repairing and restoring, the amount of food needed is sharply decreased.When a patient is pressured to eat, family friction and distress may result. It is important to serve foods requested by the patient and to provide it in small portions. When a patient is pressured to eat, family friction and distress may result. It is important to serve foods requested by the patient and to provide it in small portions.
Nutrition Related Palliative Care
Patient choice and informed decisions are of the utmost importance. Though it is important to identify malnutrition in palliative care, reversing that malnutrition may not be possible for the patient at the end of life. Traditional nutrition goals shift to be more in line with the overall philosophy of palliative care. The education provided to healthcare professionals when appetite is an issue is to either offer between meal nourishments or to provide frequent, small feedings. In the case of the dying patient, neither may be appropriate. Supplements are most often liquid and may deprive the patient of various textures and tastes but are appreciated by many patients and caregivers. Family caregivers have been known to unnecessarily awaken a sleeping patient so that they can fit in the recommended number of small meals. Some cognitively intact patients may refuse food and fluids; this decision must be respected.