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Changes in consciousness


As you withdraw from the world your brain starts to shut down making you less aware of what is going on around you.

You will spend more and more time asleep and may be quite drowsy in the periods that you are awake.  Pain killing medication may contribute to this drowsiness.

To loved ones and carers it can look like you are no longer interested in them and this can be hard for them to cope with.  This apparent lack of interest is part of a natural process that you have no control over.  It’s preparing you for death and is often accompanied by a feeling of peace and tranquillity.

This is why it’s important not to put off making plans and saying what you want to say.  If you leave it until the last days of life you may not get the opportunity.



As the time you spend asleep increases, the depth of your sleep may also increase so that you lapse into unconsciousness or go into a coma.  This period of time in a coma can last from hours to days.  Loved ones may find it comforting to know that you can probably still hear them and feel them holding your hand even if you cannot respond.  They may want to continue touching and talking to you or playing your favourite music.

Despite being in a coma, it is possible that you may still feel pain and your carers will be looking out for signs of distress so that you can continue to receive medication that can help.  Signs may include being restless or moaning.

Most people do not rouse from their coma. Gradually your coma will get deeper and deeper and eventually your heart and breathing will stop and you will die.

This transition from coma to death can be difficult to detect especially as your breathing is likely to be very shallow with long pauses between breaths.

End of Life Care
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