I am so sorry about your Grandmother. Here is a list I gave my husband to watch for when my time of death nears.
What to expect in the last days of life
Your loved one may begin to show other signs when death is imminent.
This is called the active phase of dying and usually begins about
three days before death. How people die varies greatly, but you can
expect some of the common signs, including:
Cool arms and legs. While the hands, arms, feet and legs will feel
cool to the touch, your loved one's trunk will feel warm.
Bluish coloration. Fingers, earlobes, lips and nail beds may turn blue.
Purple coloration on the legs. Also called mottling, this blotchy
coloring is one of the clearest signs that death is approaching.
No longer eating or drinking. Your loved one may not feel like eating,
or he or she may no longer be able to swallow.
Congested breathing. Noisy breathing is sometimes called the "death
rattle." As secretions from the lungs build up, your loved one may no
longer be able to cough up these secretions. Eventually the secretions
will dry up because your loved one's body may become dehydrated after
he or she stops eating and drinking. Medications can control
congestion if your loved one feels uncomfortable.
Irregular breathing. Breathing patterns may change in depth and rate.
Your loved one may also stop breathing for several seconds at a time.
Keep in mind that your loved one generally isn't aware of these
Discolored urine. If your loved one stops taking in liquids, there
will be less urine and it will be darker in color.
Incontinence. As muscles that control bowel movements and urination
relax, your loved one may experience incontinence.
Blurred vision. His or her eyes may appear glassy and unfocused.
Limited ability to communicate. Your loved one may lose the ability to
speak. He or she most likely can still hear you.
Confusion and agitation. This can be subtle or more severe, involving
jerking motions, hallucinations or delirium. It is not unusual at this stage to see loved ones in the room with them that have previously passed on.
May fidget with bed
covers as in trying to remove lint that isn't there.
For your loved one: Try these comfort measures:
Has arms and legs that feel cold to the touch, but the trunk feels
warm Use a blanket or sheet to keep him or her warm.
Is no longer eating or drinking Resist the urge to force your loved
one to eat or drink. Have water on hand with a straw, since lifting a
cup may become difficult. Keep your loved one's mouth moist with a
sponge, swab or a spray bottle. Use lip balm or petroleum jelly on the
Has congested breathing or a rattling sound when breathing Keep the
head of the bed raised and reposition your loved one every few hours.
Has labored breathing Direct a fan toward your loved one's cheek, try
opening a window to let in fresh air, or try other sitting positions
that may ease labored breathing.
Has incontinence Keep your loved one clean and dry using incontinence
pads or a catheter. Reposition him or her every few hours.
Has reduced or blurry vision Use soft lighting. Stand near the head of
the bed so that your loved one can see you better.
Has an overactive sense of hearing Avoid loud noises and television.
Try soft music.
Is no longer able to speak Your loved one can still hear and feel.
Keep talking in a soothing voice and hold his or her hand.
Shows disorientation, confusion Speak in short phrases. Repeat the
names of people in the room often and remind your loved one of the
date and time.
Is agitated Create a quiet and peaceful atmosphere. Have a minimal
number of people in the room.
Work with your loved one's doctors and nurses to make death as
symptom-free as possible. Many signs and symptoms of imminent death
can be treated, such as pain, anxiety and delirium. While these
treatments won't stop your loved one from dying, they can make the
process easier for both of you. Report any signs and symptoms that you
are unsure of and don't hesitate to ask questions if you're unsure of
what's going on.
Even in a coma, your loved one can still hear you. Though he or she
might be unable to speak or might seem asleep, continue talking in a
soothing voice. Reassure your loved one that you'll stay nearby. Hold
your loved one's hand or stroke his or her hair.
In the last few days of life, consider what your loved one would want.
Was he or she someone who enjoyed having lots of friends and family
around? Perhaps you could invite family over to sit with your loved
one to share stories and reminisce. If your loved one was a solitary
person who enjoyed quiet time alone, perhaps that would make him or
her most comfortable.
The final surge of energy
Often when people are dying, they will reach a period of time when it
seems they're getting better. Your loved one may wake up and may be
able to communicate with you. These surges can last for a few hours to
a few days. Though it can be confusing for you to see your loved one
with renewed vitality, keep in mind that this is a normal part of the
dying process, and your loved one may not actually be getting better.
He or she may soon return to illness. The final surge of energy is
often a good time to gather your family and close friends to say final
For many families, keeping vigil near the dying loved one's bed is an
important show of support and love for the dying person. Whether you
do this depends on your own customs and beliefs. If you decide to keep
vigil, continue speaking to your loved one. Express your love for him
or her, but also let your loved one know that it's all right to let
go. When keeping vigil, understand that some people prefer to die
alone. People who were independent or private in life may choose the
same in death. Don't hesitate to step away from your loved one's
bedside from time to time to allow for this.
· 10 years ago