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Sue Acreman
British Journal of Community Nursing, Vol. 14, Iss. 10, 02 Oct 2009, pp 427 - 431

Nutrition in palliative care and at the end of life should be one of the goals for improving quality of life. It is important to address issues of food and feeding at this time to assist in the management of troublesome symptoms as well as to enhance the remaining life. While this paper focuses upon the nutritional aspects of cancer in palliative care, the sentiments are applicable to other serious chronic illnesses such as advanced cardiac failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and dementia.
Cancer and its treatments exert a major impact upon physical and psychological reserves and at the end of life problems with appetite and the ability to eat and drink compound such impact. The aims of nutritional care minimize food-related discomfort and maximize food enjoyment. Identification of any nutritional problems can facilitate the employment of strategies which need to be discussed with the patient and their families and reviewed regularly as conditions change. Ethical questions will be raised concerning the provision of food and fluids to a person nearing the end of their life. Nurses need to acknowledge that food has greater significance than the provision of nutrients.

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