Knowing What to Expect When a Loved One Reaches the End of Life

Symptoms at the End of Life

When you have been advised that a loved one is nearing the end of his or her life, it’s natural to wonder what the future holds. Fortunately, in-home hospice care can be extremely comforting for both you and your loved one, as an experienced end-of-life caregiver guides you through the process and helps you understand what to expect. Here are some of the symptoms you may see in your loved one while he or she is receiving end-of-life care in Memphis .



Fatigue can be overwhelming at the end of life. Your loved one may be unable to take part in any activities that require physical exertion and may struggle to hold long conversations, read, or watch television without sleeping. When your loved one does have energy, plan activities that make the best use of that time, even if it means simply sitting together and having a long talk. In very late stages, your loved one may appear to be asleep or in a coma and unable to speak at all. However, he or she can still hear you, so continue to talk to your loved one. Your hospice care provider can help you recognize the signs that your loved one’s fatigue is becoming overwhelming.

Shallow Breathing

At the end of life, breathing becomes slow and shallow, and there may be periods where your loved one sighs or takes a deep breath and then doesn’t breathe again for a few beats. This kind of shallow breathing is normal. Turning your loved one on his or her side can be helpful. Generally, people who are experiencing this shallow breathing are not uncomfortable. Ask your hospice caregiver for advice of you believe your loved one is suffering, as a doctor can treat this symptom to increase your loved one’s comfort.

Decreased Need for Food and Water

It can be scary to watch your loved one eat and drink less, but resist the urge to force food or water. Give your loved one easy options, like ice chips and soft, easy-to-digest foods. Dehydration is common when your loved one’s appetite declines. Keep his or her lips and mouth moist with glycerin swabs and lip balm.