We’re often asked questions about how to know a person is near death, and what do if you think that may be happening. While every situation is different, it helps to have an idea of what to look for and have a plan in place. Remember that our hospice care team is there to support you every step of the way.
What are the signs that a person is near death?
As death nears, the person may:
- Sleep more
- Speak to people not present
- Talk about leaving or talk about a trip or journey
- Withdraw from people or have little to say
- Eat or drink less
- Have trouble swallowing
- Become more confused
- Make moaning sounds
- Lose control of urination and bowel movements
- Have moist breathing or sound congested
- Breathe differently, such as long periods without breathing followed by several quick, deep breaths
- Have blurred vision
- Not hear as well as usual
- Have less pain or need less pain medication
- Have hands and arms or feet and legs that are cool to the touch
- Turn blue around nose, mouth, fingers, toes
What to report to our hospice/palliative care team?
- Changes in the patient such as restlessness or anxiety, changes in breathing, pain or discomfort
- Need for spiritual support or guidance for the person or family
- Concerns that may need help from the social worker, chaplain or other members of our hospice team
- Religious, cultural or ethnic traditions important to your family
- Information about the funeral home and other arrangements that are wishes of the person, such as organ donation
What can be done for a person who is near death?
Our hospice care team will work with you to relieve symptoms and provide comfort.
Things you can do:
- Allow the person to sleep as much as he or she wishes
- Include the children in your family in a way that is sensitive to their age and willingness to be involved
- Reposition the person if it makes him or her more comfortable
- Moisten the person’s mouth with a damp cloth
- Apply a cool cloth to the forehead, if the person has a fever
- Give medications as ordered to decrease symptoms such as anxiety, restlessness, agitation or moist breathing
- Write down what the person says; reading it later may comfort you
- Continue to talk to the person and say the things you need or want to say. Remember that the person may be able to hear, even when not able to respond.
- Keep a light on in the room; it may be comforting
- Play the person’s favorite music softly
- Encourage visitors to identify themselves when talking to the person
- Keep things calm in the environment
- Open a window or use a fan in the room if the person is having trouble breathing
- Continue to touch and stay close to your loved one
It is important to talk to our hospice/palliative care team about any concerns you have. During this difficult and stressful time it is important that caregivers take care of themselves while caring for the person who is dying. The team will be there to provide support and comfort.
Let us take care of everything.
The word "hospice" was once used to describe a place of refuge for people on a difficult journey. Our excellent care and deep compassion for patients and families offer a place of comfort on the end-of-life journey. Recognizing that in hospice care, the main guardians are the family caregiver and the hospice team, care is most often provided in the home setting rather than in hospitals and hospice care facilities. The Serenity Hospice Care team will support the patient and family wherever they are.
Complete the form below to inquire about our hospice services in Wichita, Kansas, and surrounding areas.