As you approach the final days or hours of life, the body’s systems start shutting down. This may affect breathing, bladder and bowel function, and behaviour. Any changes can be managed to help you feel more comfortable.
It is natural to feel concerned about others witnessing some of these physical changes. Your medical team understand this and can help explain what is happening to your family and friends.
Some people find it reassuring to know more about what might happen in the last stages, when they may no longer be fully conscious, but others find it distressing. If you would like to know more, the process is described in Providing physical support.
Dr Megan Ritchie, Staff Specialist Palliative Medicine, Palliative Care Service, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Gabrielle Asprey, Cancer Support Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Rosemary Cavanough, Consumer; Louise Durham, Nurse Practitioner, Metro South Palliative Care Service, QLD; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Rowena Robinson, Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia, ACT; Helena Rodi, Program Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC.
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