What Is End Of Life? Signs, Stages, Symptoms, Treatment

By Alley Benton
Updated April 20, 2017
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What Is End Of Life? Signs, Stages, Symptoms, TreatmentEnd of life is simply the term that is given for a person who is close to dying. At this stage in an illness or condition, nothing else can be done to prevent the death of the patient, and ideally the best option for treatment will be to provide comfort and peace to the person who is passing on to the next life. Each person's experience of the "end of life" journey is likely to be different. While some people have a gradual decline, others are more likely to fade out suddenly.

When it comes to understanding what is end of life, the role of friends, family, and even caretakers is simply to be present, provide reassurance, and offer comfort that helps patients maintain their dignity as they die.

End of Life Signs, Stages and Symptoms:

The symptoms of end of life are likely to differ depending on the condition or illness of the patient. However, there are changes that can be present in the body of an adult patient when death is near. These are simply the natural stages of dying. Meanwhile, teenagers and children often move through a similar process, but the stages can be harder to predict.

A few months before death, a person at end of life is likely to sleep more often, and gradually drift in and out of consciousness. Additionally, this person may begin to eat or drink less, and often withdraw from people and stop doing all of the things that he or she once enjoyed. Often, people approaching end of life will suffer from depression, and some may talk less, though children often talk more, and ask questions that can be difficult to answer.

A couple of weeks before death, it's likely that patients will feel exhausted most of the time, which means that they end up spending more time in their bed. These people may have different patterns of sleeping and waking than they used to, and also experience:

- Less thirst and appetite

- Fewer bowel movements and less need to go to the bathroom

- More pain

- Changes in their heart-rate, breathing, and blood pressure

- Differences in their body temperature that might leave their skin moist, cold, warm, or pale

- Difficulty breathing from a build-up of mucus

- Confusion and disorientation

End of Life Treatments:

Often, the symptoms that outline the stages at the end of life are distressing for family members, but much of the pain and discomfort a person feels can be treated with medications from nurses and doctors around the person suffering. Indeed, the main purpose of doctors and nurses during the end of life stages is to make the patients as comfortable as possible when they are coming to the end of their life. In the last hours or days, loved ones may become so confused and restless. However, it's important to try and keep them calm.

Sometimes, medication can help in the final stages of life to make patients feel calmer and sometimes, they may even become more clear-headed the closer to death they get.





* Disclaimer:
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.