Each person''s health care team recognizes that he or she is likely within 6 months of dying, they may recommend switching to hospice, a more specialized care for people with a terminal illness who are expected to die.
Your loved one will still get treatment for pain relief and comfort, but hospice also offers emotional and spiritual support for them as well as you and close family.
Signs That Death Is Near
There are changes you can expect to see as an adult body stops working. These are a normal part of dying.
Children and teens have a similar process, but it can be harder to predict. They often stay fairly active and continue to ask a lot of tough-to-answer questions.
1 to 3 months before death, your loved one is likely to:
- Sleep or doze more
- Eat and drink less
- Withdraw from people and stop doing things they used to enjoy
- Talk less (but if they''t leave their bed. They could have:
- Different sleep-wake patterns
- Little appetite and thirst
- Fewer and smaller bowel movements and less pee
- More pain
- Changes in blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate
- Body temperature ups and downs that may leave their skin cool, warm, moist, or pale
- Congested breathing from the buildup in the back of their throat
- Confusion or seem to be in a daze
Breathing trouble can be distressing for family members, but often it isn''t there makes the person who''t need to try to convince them that they aren''re not already unconscious, your loved one may drift in and out. But they probably can still hear and feel.
At the End
In the last days or hours, your loved one may become restless and confused and have hallucinations so upsetting they may cry out, strike out, or try to climb out of bed. Stay with them. Try to keep them calm with soothing music and gentle touch. Sometimes medication helps.
The room should be well lit, but not bright. Make it as quiet and peaceful as possible. Constantly assure them that you''s obvious that death is near. The care team can help you all prepare for what''ve gathered, don''ll be there at the end. Often the person doesn''s Cancer Center, Boston.
Ursula Braun, MD, MPH, director, in-patient palliative care unit, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center Houston; assistant professor of medicine and medical ethics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.
Jennifer Clark, MD, professor of palliative medicine, departments of internal medicine and pediatrics, University of Oklahoma College of Community Medicine, Tulsa.
Andrea Holtzer, RN, palliative care nurse coordinator, St. Mary''re a Caregiver End-Stage COPD and Hospice What Is Primary Liver Cancer? End of Life Care Topics