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29 April 2009

Food and nutrition

The nutritional needs of the patient change at the end of life. The palliative care team should hel the family to understand why and what to do about it.

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The nutritional and dietary needs of the patient change at the end of life. Dr Teresa Swart, Part-time lecturer in palliative care at Stellenbosch University who is currently completing her masters degree in palliative medicine, says it is important that hospice staff and the palliative care team involve the family in understanding why the nutritional needs change and what to do about it.

Patient close to end of life

  • Food does not play such a big role. Patients are encouraged to eat what they want to eat. The patient will benefit more from small meals more frequently, instead of having three large meals. This is because the body is slowing down and cannot physically handle the food.
  • Keep the patient hydrated by offering regular sips of water.
  • Mouth hygiene is important and will make the patient feel more comfortable and increase motivation to eat.
  • Support the patient’s decision not to eat or drink.
  • If nausea is a problem, serve small portions of salty (not sweet), dry foods and clear liquids

Patients who need to eat healthily eg. HIV or tuberculosis patient

  • Have to consier food which can assist with cell-regeneration and keep the patient healthy. These may include proteins, fruit and vegetables.
  • See links on food and diet below

(Thania Gopal, Health24, April 2009)

Sources:
www.hpna.org
Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association Patient/Family Teaching Sheet
Dr Teresa Swart, Part-time lecturer in palliative care at Stellenbosch University, currently completing her masters degree in palliative medicine
Elizabeth Scrimgeour, Executive Officer of the Drakenstein Palliative Hospice and Chairperson of the Western Cape Hospice Palliative Care Association

Read more
The immune system
Food as medicine
Aging and your diet
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