End of Life Nutritional Assessment Essay

This essay has a total of 471 words and 4 pages.

End of Life Nutritional Assessment

Most patients and families are aware that without fluids, death will occur quickly.
Current literature suggests that fluids should not be routinely administered to dying
patients, nor automatically withheld from them. Instead the decision should be based upon
careful, individual assessment. Consideration of the following when the choice to initiate
and continue hydration is evaluated:

 Is the patient’s well-being enhanced by the overall effect of hydration?
 Which current symptoms are being relieved by artificial hydration?
 Are other end of life symptoms being aggravated by the fluids?
 Does hydration improve the patient’s level of consciousness? If so, is this
within the patient’s goals and wishes for end of life care?

 Does it appear to prolong the patient’s survival? If so, is this within the
patient’s goals and wishes for end of life care?

 What is the effect of the infusion technology on the patient’s well being,
mobility, ability to interact and be with family?

 What is the burden of the infusion technology on the family in terms of caregiver
stress, finance? Is it justified by benefit to the patient?

Terminal dehydration refers to the process in which the dying patient’s condition
naturally results in a decrease in fluid intake. A gradual withdrawal from activities of
daily life may occur as symptoms of dysphagia, nausea, and fatigue become more obvious.

Artificial hydration has the potential to result in fluid accumulation, resulting in
distressful symptoms such as edema, ascites, nausea and vomiting, and pulmonary

Nursing Interventions:
Dry mouth – sips of beverages, ice chips or hard candy, spraying normal saline into
the mouth with a spray bottle or atomizer. Meticulous mouth care. Swabbing the mouth with
cool water is another comfort measure.

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