The Three Signs of Approaching Death From Disease or Old Age

Barbara, My father has stomach cancer and is now home on hospice care. My question to you is based on the 2-4-6 months to live. Stage 1 is decrease in eating. He is unable to eat due to his cancer. Is there a sign other than stage 1 (decrease of eating) regarding my dad?

As a person begins the dying process, two to four months before death actually arrives, changes start happening in the areas of food, sleep and social withdrawal. Change in each of the three areas progress on a continuum (eating less, sleeping more, withdrawing more) not in stages successive to each other, but happening at the same time.

1. A person gradually stops eating. In your father's situation his disease has done that for him.

2. A person begins sleeping more until they don't get out of bed and are asleep more than awake.

3. A person begins withdrawing from the world about them, not interested in activities or news, then socializing and finally even family.

There are other signs that suggest “labor” has begun indicating a one to three week time frame. Know that all of these signs of approaching death, whether indicating months or weeks, are just guideposts. Some people will show all of them, some none, while most people have at least some of these indicators. Notice there is a wide range in the time frame, two to four months, one to three weeks. We can not be so specific as to predict a given time that death will arrive.

I would recommend you get my DVD kit, New Rules For End of Life Care. It will give you information, support and guidance during this challenging time. Also browse through my various blog articles. The more knowledge you have the better prepared you and your family will be in helping your father face this final challenge in living. Included in the NEW RULES dvd kit is Gone From My Sight: The Dying Experience and The Eleventh Hour: A Caring Guideline for the Hours to Minutes Before Death.

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