If your loved one is getting older, you may be worried about him passing away. You may be able to ease your mind, one way or the other, by educating yourself about death. Here are some tips on how to recognize the signs of approaching death.
Recognize that dying starts much before a person actually dies. The dying process, for the old-aged, is a long process that happens over time. It doesn’t just happen all at once. It’s an entire journey that ultimately ends with the physical departure of one’s soul or life from one’s body. Here are a few of the milestones that happen during the journey that should inform you of approaching death.
Your family member realizes that death is imminent. A few months before death actually occurs, your family member will begin to accept that he will soon die. He has to accept that he is a mortal being that lives and eventually dies. This can be a very hard understanding for him to come to. But when he does, you may begin to notice him withdrawing somewhat from his surroundings. He may not be as talkative or interested in visitors or family photos or daily events. He will seem more reserved and distant as he begins to understand that he will soon separate from the only life and world he has ever known. In addition to not wanting any emotional stimulation, your dying family member may also begin to eat less. He won’t be as interested in his favorite dinner as he once was, and Aunt Betty’s cookies just won’t have the same appeal to him as they used to. Because he understands that his death is approaching, he may begin to feel he doesn’t need to eat anymore. (And this is partially true – his body won’t need as much nourishment when he is dying as it once did). But don’t worry. Even though you may recognize this sign of approaching death, your loved one is not starving. The body has amazing powers to alter its chemistry to provide for itself. So your loved one definitely isn’t suffering by eating less. It’s just part of the journey of dying.
You’ll notice mental changes closer to his death. One to two weeks before your loved one passes on, you will probably start to notice some mental changes in him. Most noticeably, he will start to sleep a lot more. It is just his body’s natural way of preparing for death. Your family member may also experience mild or extreme cases of disorientation and euphoria as death approaches. Hallucinations are common as well.
His body will start to change. Several days before death occurs, you’ll notice physical changes in your loved one. His overall body temperature will drop, as will his blood pressure. His pulse may become irregular and he may even start to sweat more. In addition, he may start to turn pale and his lips and nails may turn light shades of blue. And don’t be concerned if you notice changes in his breathing patterns either. These are all physical signs of approaching death.
His life may end with a burst of energy. In the final days and hours before the death of your loved one, you may notice that his energy levels have risen again. He may be sprightlier, wanting to see friends and family. And he may even take an interest in Aunt Betty’s cookies again. Usually, this energy burst lasts only a short time.
Eventually, death will come. Your loved one’s hands and feet will look mottled (blotchy). He’ll be unresponsive, and his breathing will be sporadic, at best. In his last dying minutes, although he’ll seem at rest, he will still be able to hear you. When you see these signs, say your goodbyes as death approaches and occurs.