Understanding The Dying Patient

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Understanding the Dying Patient Objectives: • Define terminally ill. • Describe the five stages of grief. • List three legal rights to remember when caring for a terminally ill patient. • Explain how a nursing assistant can assist end-of-life care. • Identify five signs of approaching death. Death can occur suddenly due to accidents or acute illnesses or it can be expected as a result of the natural aging process. Older people as well as those with terminal illnesses may have time to prepare for death. Terminal illness is a disease, illness or condition from which recovery is not expected that will eventually cause death. Examples of terminal illness include cancer, emphysema, dementia and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Today’s health care focuses on quality of life. The experience of watching someone die as a nursing assistant can cause feelings of helplessness. Working with a terminally ill patient can be exhausting at times due to the emotions involved but can also be the most rewarding nursing experience ever. Understanding the dying patient will allow you to become a more compassionate and effective caregiver. Stages of Grief Preparing for death affects the patients’ behavior and emotions. While preparing for death, one will go through a series of stages before dying. These stages were identified by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a psychiatrist who worked with terminally ill patients. The stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. (See Table 1.) Terminally ill patients may not pass through all of the stages and may not pass through them in order. Like the dying patient, family members will also go through the stages of grief as they prepare for their loss. They too will also pass through the stages of grief at their own order and pace. |STAGE
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