August 9, 2014

The final days and last hours of life

What are the final days and last hours of a person’s life like? 

People who have experienced it know, I guess. But those of us who have not been at a deathbed do not know what to expect. I remember my mother telling me about my grandmother’s last days. She was asleep in bed for a long time and it wasn’t clear if she was alive or not. Her devoted aides would periodically place a mirror in front of her mouth to see if there was evidence of breathing. Eventually, there was not and she was gone.

The pamphlet that the VNS gave us indicates the following ‘situations’:
  • ·     No appetite
  • ·     Urine output decreases
  • ·     Arms, legs, face are cool
  • ·     Person cannot be aroused
  • ·     Breathing my be noisy
  • ·     Breathing patterns may change and be faster or slower
  • ·     Depth and frequency of breathing decreases more and more until the heartbeat stops
  • ·     Eyes and mouth may be open

Family should stay calm and hold the person’s hand. Family should also continue to speak as though the person can hear and understand. Family should be reassuring. The dying person will feel love, support and honor. 

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