"End of Life: Stages, Signs, and Its Effects" is an engrossing example of a paper on symptoms. End of life refers to the last days of one’ s life. Unlike in accidents or catastrophes where death comes unpredicted, with some illness, it becomes apparent when the final days of one’ s life are approaching. When approaching death, there are several stages and signs that the death of a loved one is fast approaching. With the end of life approaching, it is a difficult time for the patient and the family members who have to look after their loved ones and watch them die at the same time.
End of life affects both the patients and his\her loved ones. End of life stage is just as crucial as any stage in one’ s time, sometimes even more critical. The essay below discusses the end of life stages, their signs, its effects, and what the people involved can do to make the transition as smooth as possible (Maynard et al. , 2016). The end of life comes in stages; patients' bodies deteriorate step by step to the last minute when they become lifeless.
These stages can be challenging for all the parties involved, the stages all include a lot of difficulty, necessity for acceptance, and the loved ones having to be strong for the one about to depart. Stages include withdrawal from the external world. When a patient is approaching death, a lot is going on in their mind, they are terrified of not being there anymore and at the same time are forced to accept the harsh reality that it is happening and cannot do anything but accept it.
This makes their final stages a way of them trying to prove that they do not need anybody, they do not want to deal with pity or too many condolences, so they withdraw from the rest of the world. The next stage is vision as hallucinations, hallucinating is a mental confusion where one can see or hear things that are not there. These can be sporadic or frequent, depending on the patient. The patient seems to lack contact with reality and sees something that is not there. Hallucinations are very common; sometimes, they see what they have so desperately wanted to see or what makes them feel safe, sometimes it's just an outburst of non-existing things the person says.
Hallucinations are a part of the dying process; they do not need any treatment unless severe, for the most part, they are just final thoughts of a patient that they say out loud as they confuse it with reality. Most of the people who hallucinate see their loved one who has already died. Hallucinations happen due to the chemical imbalance in one's body at the end of their life.
They could also be as a result of the medicine the patient has been administered. The next stage is the loss of appetite. Loss of appetite could result from other symptoms that come with the disease that is ailing the patient. It could be that eating involves them feeling pain or nausea, constipation, or even breathlessness. Another reason one could lose their appetite is that their body activities have been reduced to almost non-existent. So the body's energy needs have slowed down, making it unnecessary for the patient to need food.
Loss of appetite could be because they do not require energy; they are not hungry (Dunn et al. , 2014). The next stage changes in bowel and bladder functions. As a patient loses their appetite, their intake of food and fluids is reduced. As a result, the kidneys produce a reduced amount of urine. With a reduced amount of urine production, the patient is not always thirsty as there is no need for fluids required of the body. This will lead to dehydration; dehydration affects the passing of stool and causes constipation.
From lack of appetite to dehydration and constipation, the patient becomes weaker, and the systems start crashing. Confusion, Restlessness, and Agitation is the next stage that can be extremely troubling for the family members, especially. The patient becomes irritable, agitated, troubled, confused, and out of control. These can be hard to watch and live through for the family. The patient’ s character seems to change suddenly; they are making ridiculous demands or accusations and threatening to call the police. The restlessness could be due to several reasons such as long-term use of particular medication that could result in that restlessness.
It could belong to periods of uncontrolled pain, decreased oxygen levels in the brain, high calcium levels, or even overall emotional turmoil. The patient's behavior can be aggressive and with a lot of confusion. The bottom line is, at this stage, the body is experiencing overall exhaustion, and the patient is getting frustrated and agitated as a result. The family members face a rough patch in this stage, they could get angry at life, start wishing bad things, and it affects their emotional state.
This is why people need to be educated about the end of life, what to expect, and learn how to deal with it. It is also important because the family explores other options if they deem any stage something cannot handle (Kuhse et al. , 1997). The next stage; changes in breathing, as well as congestion in the lung or throat. When a person dies, the last organs to die are the heart and lungs. Breathing intervals become irregular with periods of shallow breathing alternating with intervals of deep rapid breathing.
When approaching death, the mucus can build up, causing a rattling sound when breathing. At this stage, breathing becomes a difficult task for the patient that involves a lot of noise and, inevitably, pain (Matthiesen et al. , 2014). Changes in skin temperature and color characterize the next stage. With problems breathing, there is not enough oxygen supply for the body. As a result, the skin may look slightly blue due to lack of oxygen; this is also referred to as cyanosis.
The skin temperatures are low with the hands and feet really cold. This happens because of the changes in the blood circulation and can be controlled by keeping the patient warm and covered up all through. The above stages of end life show what is to be expected to happen to the patients during the end of a terminal illness. These stages are important to learn so at to make sure that the patient is accommodated and well taken care of to their last breath When the family understands what to expect, they can decide whether to spend the last days of their loved one at home with family or decide to trust good hospice care to provide the most ideal situation for the patient.
Whether a patient spends their final days at home or in a medical facility, it is important for their physical, as well as emotional state, are given the best care they can get. The family also needs to be prepared emotionally and even see a doctor if need be when it comes to dealing with facing the death of a loved one.
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Kuhse, H., Singer, P., Rickard, M., Baume, P., & Clark, M. (1997). End-of-life decisions in Australian medical practice. Medical Journal of Australia, 166(4), 191–196.
Matthiesen, M., Froggatt, K., Owen, E., & Ashton, J. R. (2014). End-of-life conversations and care: An asset-based model for community engagement. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care, 4(3), 306–312.
Maynard, D. W., Cortez, D., & Campbell, T. C. (2016). ‘End of life conversations, appreciation sequences, and the interaction order in cancer clinics. Patient Education and Counseling, 99(1), 92–100.