Active dying is the final phase of the dying process; it lasts roughly three days.
Actively dying patients are very close to death, and exhibit many signs and symptoms of near-death.
Typical signs of active dying include:
• blood pressure drops significantly
• buildup of fluid in the lungs, which may cause unusual gurgling sounds
• hallucinations, delirium, and agitation
• long pauses in breathing; patient’s breathing patterns may also be very irregular
• patient is in a coma, or semi-coma, or cannot be awoken
• patient’s skin changes color (mottling) and their extremities may feel cold to the touch
• urinary and bowel incontinence and/or decrease in urine; urine may also be discolored
A patient may not experience all of the signs; however, this list will help the patient’s caregivers in recognizing and defining active dying.
Learning the signs and symptoms of active dying can be helpful, but predicting it is still difficult. A palliative care specialist can help the patient by attending to their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs at the end of life.
How can you predict the end of life? Download a free guide.
See reference for more information.
Adapted from What Is Active Dying? Crossroads Hospice and Palliative Care. Internet. Available at https://www.crossroadshospice.com/hospice-caregiver-support/end-of-life-signs/what-is-active-dying/ Accessed on April 13, 2020.