Family members spoke to us about the importance of having health care staff prepare them as end of life nears. This allows time to have family and friends close at hand and to have time to say goodbye.
As people near the end of their life, they can become very ill very quickly, sometimes with little warning. So its really important that you ask any questions that you want answered about what to expect, and know what signs to look out for if someone is at home.
In the last few days of life:
- a person may start to become quiet and sleep for long periods
- they may stop eating and drinking
- their breathing pattern may change and may become slow and shallow
- some people become agitated and confused (these symptoms can be managed)
Although people may sleep more or slip in and out of consciousness in the final days or hours, they may still be able to hear you so keep talking to them. You may want to reflect on happy memories, or tell them how much you love them. Sitting quietly and holding someone’s hand can also bring comfort.
Dying is often very peaceful, breathing slows and becomes irregular, until the person takes a few short, gentle last breaths.