All About Nursing · Hospice & Palliative Care

Anxiety, Depression, Caregiver Burnout, Grief, Anger, Frustration in End of Life Care

Anxiety

  • According to the DSM-5, anxiety disorders are those that share features of excessive anxiety and fear with related behavioral disturbances.
  • These disorders differ from normal fear and anxiety in their being excessive and persisting beyond developmentally appropriate periods, typically lasting 6 months or more
  • Types of anxiety:
    1. Separation anxiety – anxiety or fear about separation from an attachment figure
    2. Selective mutism- consistent failure to speak in social situations
    3. Social anxiety – fear or anxiety about social interactions or situations
    4. Panic disorder -recurrent panic attacks
    5. Phobias- fear of a specific object or situation
    6. Generalized anxiety disorder- persistent or excessive anxiety and worry about various domains.
  • Treatment:
    • Nonpharmacological interventions
      1. Establish a trusting relationship
      2. Be aware of any anxiety that you as a nurse may have that may be picked up on
      3. Do not leave a person experiencing an anxiety disorder exacerbation alone
      4. Maintain a calm, nonthreatening, manner-of-fact approach
      5. Keep stimuli minimized
      6. Use simple words and brief messages that are calmly and clearly explained
      7. Discuss the reality of the situation
      8. Include person on decision-making to feel more in control
      9. Encourage exploration of underlying feelings that contribute to irrational fears
      10. Teach and reinforce stress management /relaxation techniques
    • Pharmacological interventions
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Dysphagia

Dysphagia is characterized by difficulty swallowing solids and /or liquids and may arise from a variety of underlying conditions, including cognitive impairment, weakness, mechanical obstruction, and incoordination. Presenting symptoms may include prolonged meal times, avoidance of certain foods/liquids, new head or body movements during meals, voice changes with eating, coughing, choking, or unexplained weight loss. Dysphagia place the patient at increased risk for aspiration and malnutrition.

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Hypercalcemia at the End of Life

  • Hypercalcemia is associated with several cancers, most commonly breast, lung, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. Hypercalcemia in the setting of advanced cancer may be caused by release of calcium due to bone metastases, solid tumor release of PTHrP (parathyroid hormone-related protein), or tumor production of calcitriol leading to increased intestinal calcium resorption. Hypercalcemia in cancer patients is indicative of widespread disease and is associated with a poor prognosis for long-term survival.
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Pain Management at the End of Life (Reading and Sharing)

The prevalence of pain varies by dx, stage of disease, and setting of care. Approximately 1/3 of patients with cancer experience pain at the time of diagnosis, while 2/3 with metastatic disease report pain. Less is known about the prevalence of pain in those with diagnoses other than cancer.

Pain is described by the World Health Organization as a “multidimensional phenomenon with sensory, physiological, cognitive, affective, behavioral and spiritual components.” Pain is a complex biopsychosocial phenomenon, an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in these terms. (Pain is whatever the patient says it is.)

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