What happens as a person approaches death?
Few families are truly prepared for what transpires as an individual approaches death and your hospice team can help you with your questions. During times of grief, the natural approach of death can become overwhelming and many find comfort in knowing what to expect. Whereas there is no easy way to expect the loss of a family member or friend, having an idea of what is to come may take away some of the shock.
Typically the body begins to cool and this starts in the hands and the arms and the legs and the feet. This shows that the circulation of blood is decreasing and being used for the vital organs. You can help your loved one stay warm by covering them lightly with a blanket.
Your loved one will spend a lot of time sleeping and will often times be unresponsive or difficult to wake. This change is due to changes in the metabolism of the body and should not be alarming. There is no need to be speak loudly during this time and you can converse with your loved one as you normally would regardless of response. Even though your loved one may not acknowledge what you are saying hearing is one of the last senses to go.
Your loved one maybe confused and have difficulty identifying the people surrounding them. It's important to identify yourself to your loved one and to speak clearly and concisely. You may also hear chest congestion in the lungs and this is due to the decrease of fluid intake. You can gently assist your loved one by turning their head to the side to allow the secretions to be released.
There is no easy way to say good-bye to someone that is dying but being aware of the final stages may make it possible for you to ascertain that you need to bid farewell. Tears are a natural part of the process and an expression of love and do not need to be hidden from your loved one. The grieving process that follows is also a natural part of losing a loved one.