10 Signs Death Is Near

What to expect and how to respond to the natural dying process
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No one can predict the moment of death. But physicians and nurses involved in end-of-life care know that certain symptoms are usually associated with the body's shutting down. These signs of approaching death are specific to the natural dying process (apart from the effects of particular illnesses the person may have).

Not all dying symptoms show up in every person, but most people experience some combination of the following in the final days or hours:

1. Loss of appetite

Energy needs decline. The person may begin to resist or refuse meals and liquids, or accept only small amounts of bland foods (such as hot cereals). Meat, which is hard to digest, may be refused first. Even favorite foods hold little appeal.

Near the very end of life, the dying person may be physically unable to swallow.

How to respond: Don't force-feed; follow the person's cues even though you may be distressed by a loss of interest in eating. Periodically offer ice chips, a popsicle, or sips of water. Use a moistened warm cloth around the mouth and apply balm to the lips to keep them moist and comfortable.

2. Excessive fatigue and sleep

The person may begin to sleep the majority of the day and night as metabolism slows and the decline in food and water contribute to dehydration. He or she becomes difficult to rouse from sleep. The fatigue is so pronounced that awareness of immediate surroundings begins to drift.

How to respond: Permit sleep. Avoid jostling the person awake. Assume that everything you say can be heard, as the sense of hearing is thought to persist, even when the person is unconscious, in a coma, or otherwise not responsive.


12 days ago, said...

I had never heard of "Failure to Thrive" so I looked it up. This link warns of using it as a diagnosis. I'm hoping you have a team of doctors looking after your mother. When you don't feel well, you give up. From reading this, I would see if she might drink a nutritional energy drink such as Boost or Ensure to get some protein in her. You didn't mention any underlying illness or whether she is in hospice, but I wouldn't give up. http://www.todaysgeriatricmedicine.com/archive/110310p8.shtml


12 days ago, said...

My mom was diagnosed with Failure to Thrive. She barely eats, maybe one or two bites at the most and hardly drinks. She sometimes stares and doesn't respond to you, like she is looking straight past you at something else, she sleeps a lot, now she says she can't get comfortable in a chair, bed, or anything. She will say nothing is working and that she doesn't know what to do. Then she will get upset and cry. Is this a normal process and if so, at what point is she in the dying process?


about 1 month ago, said...

My relative has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer (primary cancer is from the stomach and has liver metastases) with a prognosis of 6 to 12 months. It started when her annual medical checkup showed a high cancer marker rating. An appointment was scheduled with the oncologist was made but the pain from her abdomen got so bad that she was hospitalised before the appointment date. Things took a turn for the worse as the symptoms of advanced cancer suddenly came. Vomit, swelling, liver showing signs of failure. The doctors decided to let her start chemo immediately. The side effects if chemo came in, high blood pressure, low blood count, ulcers and thrush in the mouth. She vomited blood. Had diahrrea. Blood transfusions & plasma drips were given. Radiotherapy is scheduled to help stop the internal bleeding. Fentanyl and painkillers injection helps manage her pain. Days ago, they removed most drips from her and we notice the soles of her feet starting to turn purplish. Reading this article, I find it assuring that it is a natural dying process. I just pray she gets to go home soon, get all the comfort we can give to transit & find peace in her heart.


about 1 month ago, said...

My mom is dying of pancreatic cancer. we are seeing her decline quite rapidly. Hospice is a wonderful resource for us as we navigate this new situation. I am an only child. I wasn't prepared for much of the things happening, it's happened so fast. My question is, is it normal for the person to become paranoid that we are all out to hurt her somehow? she wakes up accusing me of terrible things and imagining that I am lying, killing, or starving her ! This is so distressing for me to hear as I'm trying so hard to take good care of her. I know she would never say or think that in her normal right mind but it's still very upsetting to hear say. I'm unsure how to respond when she has those paranoia episodes directed at me.. Any thoughts and advice please? Thank you


about 1 month ago, said...

My mom would lose cerculation in her fingers and they'd turn purple or blue. Shed bend down and try to get my blanket. When I'd get it for her and try to lay her down shed say no. Shed run into things and shed start talking normally then shed muble words and quietly speak and close her eyes. She passed away May 24th 2015. I'm 13. I turned 13 two days ago. If you have a mom, tell her you lobe her because you never know how much you love or appreciate her until she's gone. I miss you mom. So so much.


4 months ago, said...

Hi new here, Ive been caretaker for my mother in law for the past 5 months, she has colon cancer met to lung, 3 1/2 years now, never had treatment, 2 weeks ago she was in pain & agitated, her appetite was once huge, she started eating less, 9 days ago she went into a coma like state has not eaten or drank, eyes open, mouth open, breathing is ok now I noticed her left foot/leg is very swollen.


5 months ago, said...

In April of this year my uncle got a sinus infection. Then he was found having severe seizures. Come to dine out it was bacterial meningitis. He was in ICU for awhile then had inpatient therapy. He was brought from washington dc to Chicago where he currently lives with me my mom and grandparents. He has had 4 seizures since he has been here and 2 brain surgeries to remove fluid from his brain. He has been taking alot of medication lately. And i have noticed that he has been sleeping alot. For most of the day. He has been gaining a little weight but his appetite isnt there. He is HIV positive so his immune system is already weak. He is weak as it is. Every once in awhile he mumbles in his sleep and he sometimes stares off into space. He forgets things really quickly. He sometimes talk to people who arent there. What does all of this mean


5 months ago, said...

Hello sorry for your loss everyone


5 months ago, said...

A relative is dying from colon cancer and has not eaten food or drink in 5 weeks. She suddenly has blurry vision. In what stage would she be in her passing?


5 months ago, said...

I am the caregiver for my 75 year old uncle who has just entered stage 4/end stage copd. He only has 25% lung capacity, no appetite, can barely talk while sitting. I have noticed his skin look paper white, now a yellow raccoon mask, Face and nose appear red and purple looking. Swelling in the ankles up to his knees, but he still gets around. Although I know he is forcing himself. Does anyone know if he has weeks, months, or years left. I have no idea what I am dealing with.


6 months ago, said...

Is it normal for people with dementia to have tears in their eyes when they look at you?


6 months ago, said...

My grandmother has had a stroke and keep having seziurs . She is not like herself . She is 71 , she repeats everything we say and don't hold a convocation. She Cry's all the time and tells us she has something important to tell us , yet she never seems to be able to get it out . What's happening to her ?


6 months ago, said...

Very helpful and reassuring. Dad is in hospice now and watching this process is beautiful but painful. Just want him to have his peace.


6 months ago, said...

Does it sound like what is taking place with her?


6 months ago, said...

My mother in law came home sunday she has been in bed until today when she got up for a while. She wont eat hasnt drink much and wont take her medicine she has a blank stare about her.


7 months ago, said...

Meredith never knew she was near death. Either did her doctor. She was very tired Sunday night after setting the clocks ahead. "I think I'll sleep in my chair." "No we will get you to the couch."The next day she was gone.


8 months ago, said...

I just found this site today & joined. I am an alternative healthcare practitioner & have been an "end of life caregiver for several, both family & friends. I think an 11th sign needs to be added: As the circulatory system is VERY SLOWLY shutting down, the capillaries are the first to go causing the appearance of dark/black tissue in the diaper area (folds of the skin around the genitals as well as the anus. In women, the clitoris turns very dark/black). These tissues are normally various shades of pink. This is actually necrotic tissue & should be reported by anyone who is responsible for cleaning these areas. My mother had this particular sign about 2-3 weeks before she transitioned to the other side. I dismissed it since she had a dark olive complexion. She had developed "hospital psychosis" & was brought home as she had no pathology. She was suppose to be recovering not dying. My mother was very sharp & alert until the hospital psychosis. All the drs evaluated her & àll agreed she should snap out of it once she was back in her familiar surroundings. I was shocked as she did her final exhalation. I was sitting next to her & jumped out of the chair. I patted her face & begged her to come back. Even though I knew she was out of her body, I still did CPR & mouth to mouth till the paramedics arrived. My mom had already bought tickets for 2 of her great grandchildren & herself. They were all going to Costa Rica so I knew she really didn't want to leave just yet...she was gone. I truly hope this info helps others.