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How do you know when someone is close to death?

Status: Open    Mar 30, 2015 - 10:40 PM

End of Life

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Apr 09, 2015 - 08:03 AM

The last phase of life is called the transition phase. This is when the body is actually shutting down and getting ready to leave. It usually starts with a few tell tale signs. One of the most common is the person losing the ability and or desire to eat or swallow. This is a natural way that the body is saying that I am not absorbing the nutrients and it shuts off the swallow reflex. If someone has declined 2 meals in an 8 hour period, I usually know that we are in our transition phase. This phase can last anywhere from hours to days. there are also some other indications such as the person talking about going home or on a trip. They may even talk about being visited by loved ones who have already passed. It is important to not try and force food at this time, but offer soft, small meals and if your loved one declines, gracefully say ok. It is one of the most difficult concepts for caregivers understandably so. There is no suffering or starving. You can offer ice chips and use a mouth lubricant for comfort at this time.


Apr 09, 2015 - 02:54 PM

Symptoms that may be observed as death approaches are drowsiness, agitation, confusion, and increased periods of unresponsiveness. There is a decreased need for food and fluids. There is increased bowel and bladder incontinence. The respirations become labored, noisy, and irregular. The skin becomes cooler, usually beginning in the lower extremities and discoloration in the legs might be observed. The appearance and duration of these symptoms will vary between individuals.


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