Changes at the Time of Death

You may have little or no prior experience of dying and death. You may only have scenes from movies as some kind of guide. It is always a good idea to ask questions. There are no ‘silly’ questions for health professionals. You may need detailed information about what to expect. You may just need to know that advice and support is available.

As a person is dying, they will experience changes. This could be having less energy and being easily tired. During this time, doctors and nurses are likely to be needed more often. This will include the GP and community nurse for someone at home. A palliative care team may also be involved.

It is important that the person who is ill is free of symptoms like pain and nausea. Many people prefer to be alert. They like to be able to talk with those around them. People often eat and drink less, and spend increasing time sleeping.

You or the person you are caring for may want to know what happens as death approaches. There are common changes that most people will go through. This can be a change in colour, in circulation or breathing patterns. However, each person’s death is individual, just as their life is.



Fact Sheets and Brochures

  • From the Eastern Metropolitan Region Palliative Care Consortium: Noisy breathing - A family leaflet (455kb pdf)
  • Palliative Care Australia has a brochure The dying process
  • The Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services has produced a factsheet on Dying at home.
  • The Hospice and palliative Nurses Association (US) has a Patient / Family teaching sheet on the final days

Last updated 21 September 2018