What Are the Stages to Death for a Hospice Patient?


Quick Answer

Dying hospice patients commonly experience stages referred to as the pre-active and active phases of dying, however, each case is different and symptoms can vary depending on specific illnesses, explains Hospice Patients Alliance. Pre-active symptoms may include restlessness, agitation and appetite loss. Active symptoms may include abnormal breathing and incontinence.

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Additional behaviors that may occur during the pre-active stage of dying include withdrawal, longer pauses when breathing during sleep and waking hours and increased water retention throughout the body, explains Lake Shore Funeral Home and Cremation Services. When patients enter the active stage of dying, they may also experience symptoms such as a rapid drop in blood pressure, discolored urine, lung congestion and a bluish tint to the skin of the hands and feet.

Hospice patients who are approaching death may also experience visual hallucinations in which they appear to be communicating with loved ones who have already passed on, explains Kokua Mau Hawaii Hospice and Pallative Care Organization. It is also common for dying patients to experience temporary bursts of energy, during with they appear lucid and talkative. This can be confusing for observers, as they may believe that the dying individual is experiencing a spontaneous recovery. While this usually does not signify recovery, it does allow for clarity and a period of closure between the dying patient and their loved ones.

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