Recognising Dying


It is important to recognise the signs and symptoms of the terminal phase of life.

While it is not possible to describe the signs and symptoms that will occur in each individual, the following have been found to be useful indicators that the older person has only days left to live:
  • Rapid day-to-day deterioration that is not reversible.
  • Requiring more frequent interventions.
  • Becoming semi-conscious with lapses into unconsciousness.
  • Increasing loss of ability to swallow.
  • Refusing or unable to take food, fluids or oral medications.
  • Irreversible weight loss.
  • An acute event has occurred requiring revision of treatment goals.
  • Profound weakness.
  • Changes in breathing patterns.

Benefits of Creating a Terminal Care Plan

Role of Nurses

Dealing with Complications

Providing Advice on What to do Immediately After a Death

Helpful Resources



Page updated 23 May 2017


palliAGED is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.