End-of-life symptoms for hospice patients include changes in metabolism, body functions, consciousness, circulation and secretions, reports the America Cancer Society. Knowing these symptoms helps prepare patients and their relatives for the impending demise. Symptoms usually appear two or three months before death.
Changes in metabolism see a reduction in food and drink intake. The patient’s mouth becomes dry, and the need for medicine reduces, observes the American Cancer Society.
Bodily functions change when death is near, explains the Hospice Patients Alliance. The patient can experience a severe buildup of fluid in the lungs, which affects proper respiration. The patient may breathe through the mouth continuously and be unable to speak anymore, even if he is awake. The body is less likely to heal from wounds and infections due to a compromised immunity, explains the Hospice Patients Alliance.
The patient experiences changes in levels of consciousness, states the American Cancer Society. He potentially slips into a coma or semi-coma frequently. If aroused, the patient easily slips back into semi-consciousness. When awake, the patient sometimes barely recognizes common faces and items. Arms and legs can feel cold to touch due to poor circulation. The heart rate may become irregular, and the blood pressure become undetectable on the BP machine.
At this stage, the patient often finds it difficult controlling bodily secretions, reveal American Nurse Today. Any effort at breathing can produce a noisy, rattling sound. This sound is a result of air passing through secretions that have accumulated in the throat.