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Re: signs of impending death

Re: signs of impending death

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Posted by Tina Ellenburg LVN on December 05, 1999 at 12:40:38:

In Reply to: signs of impending death posted by Bonnie Lacy on May 26, 1999 at 10:02:23:

I am a charge nurse in a nursing home and graduated from Amarillo College School of Nursing in 1994. I have worked in nursing homes for 5 1/2 years and have dealt with this type of thing many times.
In my experience everyone is different.
Some stay completely with it and just pass in their sleep. Others become uncontious or comatose. Usually in impending death the ear lobes will turn back, feet and hands begin to mottle purple and then start to black in the toes and fingers----this is the body conserving for the heart and brain. The eyes become fixed and dilated, breathing will sometimes be rapid with periods of apnea---stop breathing, and/or there may be labored wet sounding breathing due to build of fluid in lungs and or throat,pulse speeds up and blood pressure lowers. Like I said though everyone is different and this doesn't always happen. Some take a very long time to die and that is usually when they have unresolved issues or maybe are waiting to say goodbye to a particular person. Remember this is for impending death----where there are maybe only days or minutes to go. When and if you see these signs you should make sure that everyone tells her it is okay to go that everyone will be okay and that they will take care of everything for her.
And sometimes when that doesn't work to ease their passing, and if they are a religious person it helps to crack the window open just slightly and tell them the angels can get in to help them on their journey----this sounds absurd but it has proven to be a real comfort measure for some to allow them to pass easily.
The most important things to do until this time is spend quality time with her, talk to her about what she thinks, feels, fears and try to help put her fears at rest. Help her visit with her pastor or priest, help her to say goodbye to everyone she loves and make her time left the best possible filled with much love and caring. You must care for yourself too and try not to grieve in front of her. The stress of your grieving is too much for her.
Make sure she is kept very clean and dressed as nice as possible at all times. Take care of oral hygiene too especially now. Brush and fix her hair as much as she will allow. Help her feel good about herself. Make sure she has good skin care and is turned a minimum of every two hours if she is unable to turn herself---skin breakdown is a horrible thing. Keep her skin soft with lotion all over, keep lip balm for her lips and use it frequently. If and when she is unable to have adequate oral care due to not being able to swallow then use special lemon swabs for this. Give her as much privacy and dignity as possible.
My good wishes and heart are with you in this difficult time.

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