Preparing for the Final Weeks & Days of Life

Knowing what to expect and feeling prepared for the final weeks & days of your life may help you and those who support you feel some level of control.  

What can I expect in the last weeks or days of life?
In the last weeks to days of life, you might have some common symptoms like nausea or vomiting, itchiness, restless legs, trouble sleeping, pain, and trouble breathing. Your healthcare team will help you manage your symptoms.
When your kidney function gets very poor, you might start to have other symptoms that can’t be managed like loss of appetite, muscle twitching, feeling drowsy, feeling tired, and confusion. You might spend most of your time resting and you might need a lot of help from your family and friends.

The Last Days of Life
In the last days of life, you may sleep longer, have less energy, or eat and drink less (or maybe nothing at all). Your family and friends might notice that you’re less aware. You might be a bit confused and restless at times. This is all expected. Healthcare professionals are available to support and help families understand what is happening.

What will happen if my family and friends can’t care for me at home?
If you and your family think you need more help than what you can get at home, your healthcare providers will help you make another plan. This might mean going to a place that provides palliative care, like a hospice in your community if possible. If a hospice isn’t an option, you might need to go to a hospital for palliative care.

What should my family and friends know?
In the last days of life, you may:
•     be confused
•     be restless
•     have trouble breathing or breathe differently
•     have an irregular heartbeat
•     have changes with how the bowels and bladder work
•     have skin changes
•     have muscle twitching
These changes are all a normal part of dying. Just being with the person who is dying is the best way to offer comfort and support.

Preparing for the End of Life Handout