Palliative care - what the final days are like
Dying is a process. Sometimes the process takes time. Understanding the process may allow family and friends to help comfort their loved one.
End of life - final days; Hospice - final days
Palliative care is a holistic approach to care that focuses on treating pain and symptoms and improving quality of life in people with serious illnesses or who are in the final days of life.
The Final Days of Life
For a while, signs that death is near may come and go. Family and friends may need help understanding the signs that mean a person is close to death.
What you Might see
As a person gets closer to death, the person might:
What you can do
As family or friends:
When to Call the Doctor
Call a member of the hospice team if your loved one shows signs of pain or anxiety.
Arnold R. Care of dying patients and their families. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 3.
Rakel RE, Trinh TH. Care of the dying patient. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 5.
Smith LN, Jackson VA. How do symptoms change for patients in the last days and hours of life? In: Goldstein NE, Morrison RS, eds. Evidence-Based Practice of Palliative Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 39.
Review Date: 2/18/2018
Reviewed By: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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