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Understanding 10 Signs That Death Is Near In Dementia Patients

10 signs death is near dementia

With the progression of dementia, it’s crucial to be aware of the signs that indicate the end of life may be approaching for patients. Recognizing these signs can help caregivers and family members provide the best care and support during this challenging time. This comprehensive guide by Westmont of Encinitas explores the top 10 signs death is near dementia patients, shedding light on this critical aspect of end-of-life care.


Key Takeaways:

  • Recognizing the Signs: It is crucial to be aware of the 10 signs death is near dementia patients, such as increased sleep, difficulty swallowing, and withdrawal from social activities.
  • Understanding the Process: Knowing these signs can help family members and caretakers prepare emotionally and practically for the inevitable outcome.
  • Seeking Support: If you have a loved one with dementia, do not hesitate to reach out for guidance, assistance, and emotional support during this challenging time.


Reduced Physical Mobility

Less Movement

Physical mobility is often one of the first areas to decline in dementia patients nearing the end of life. Less movement may be evident through decreased ability to walk or perform daily activities independently.


Difficulty Sitting

Even sitting for extended periods can become a challenge for dementia patients in the advanced stages. Discomfort, restlessness, and agitation may accompany this difficulty, so it is crucial to provide adequate support and comfort measures.

Monitoring changes in sitting behavior is essential as it can impact the patient’s overall comfort and quality of life. Consult with healthcare professionals to ensure appropriate care and support for the individual’s needs.


Decreased Food Intake

Eating Less

Even a slight decrease in food intake can be a concerning sign in dementia patients nearing the end of life. Their reduced desire to eat may be attributed to various factors, including changes in metabolism, medication side effects, or simply a decreased appetite due to the progression of the disease. It’s essential to monitor their eating habits and consult with healthcare professionals if significant changes occur.


Weight Loss

Assuming that weight loss is a common occurrence in elderly individuals with dementia is a misconception. While some weight loss is expected due to various factors, significant and rapid weight loss can be a red flag, signaling that the body is shutting down. This is often accompanied by a decline in overall health and functionality, indicating that the end of life may be approaching.

Weight Loss

Weight Loss

Increased Sleep

Noticing an increase in the amount of sleep your loved one with dementia is getting can be a sign that death may be near. This increase in sleep can result from the body naturally slowing down and preparing for the final stages of life.


More Napping

An increase in napping during the day can also be a sign of the body tiring and preparing for the end. As the body’s energy levels decrease, this can be a normal part of the dying process in dementia patients.


Less Alertness

To family members and caregivers, the reduced alertness in dementia patients nearing death can be alarming. It is essential to understand that alertness and awareness are often decreased as the body prepares for the end. This does not necessarily mean the individual is in pain or distress but that the body is naturally shutting down.

This decreased alertness can provide some comfort as it signals that the individual may be in a peaceful state near the end of their life.


Changed Communication

Less Talking

As a dementia patient nears the end of life, you may notice a decrease in verbal communication. This can be due to the deterioration of cognitive functions and the increasing difficulty in finding the right words. It is essential to remain patient and understanding as a caregiver or loved one during this stage.


Non-verbal Expressions

You’ll observe that non-verbal expressions become more prominent in communication with dementia patients at the end of life. Facial expressions, body language, and gestures may convey emotions and needs more effectively than words. Please pay close attention to these cues and respond accordingly to ensure their comfort and well-being.

To support non-verbal communication, consider using touch, gentle reassurance, and maintaining eye contact to establish a connection with the dementia patient. Be mindful that your presence and understanding play a crucial role in helping them feel safe and cared for during this challenging time.


Social Withdrawal

Less Interaction

Interaction with others tends to decrease as dementia progresses. Unlike in the past, when the individual was actively engaged in conversations and activities, they may now show signs of withdrawing from social situations. This decreased interaction can be one of the first signs indicating that death may be approaching for a dementia patient.


Isolation Preference

Withdrawal from social activities may result from cognitive decline and a preference for isolation. As dementia progresses, the individual may start to prefer spending time alone, disengaging from activities they once found enjoyable. This isolation preference can lead to increased social withdrawal and further decreased interaction with others.

With the preference for isolation, dementia patients may start avoiding social gatherings, conversations, and even interactions with close family members. This heightened desire for solitude can indicate that death may be nearing for the individual as they begin to detach themselves from the world around them.


Altered Breathing Patterns

Irregular Breathing

Notice irregular breathing patterns in a loved one with dementia. It can be a sign that they are approaching the end stage of the illness. These irregular breathing patterns may include long pauses between breaths, rapid or shallow breathing, or periods of hyperventilation.

Senior Irregular Breathing

Irregular Breathing

Periods of Apnea

Even more concerning than irregular breathing, periods of apnea or temporary cessation of breathing can occur in dementia patients close to the end of life. These pauses in breathing may last from a few seconds to a minute and can be distressing to witness.

The presence of periods of apnea can indicate that the body is beginning to shut down, and the person may be nearing their final days. Comforting the individual during this time and consulting with their healthcare team for further guidance on end-of-life care is essential.


Decreased Urination

Less Frequent

Some individuals with dementia may begin to experience decreased urination, which can manifest as urinating less frequently than usual. This change in urination pattern could indicate a decline in kidney function or hydration levels. It is vital to monitor the frequency of urination to ensure adequate hydration and proper kidney function.


Darker Urine

Darker urine in dementia patients could be a sign of dehydration or other underlying health issues. Monitoring the color of the urine is crucial, as darker urine may indicate a lack of proper hydration. Ensure that the individual drinks enough fluids to maintain hydration, and consult a healthcare professional if the issue persists.


Swelling in Extremities

Swollen Feet

Even in the advanced stages of dementia, caregivers must remain vigilant for physical signs that could indicate a patient’s health is declining. Swollen feet can be one such indication. This swelling, which can be caused by various factors, including poor circulation, heart failure, or kidney issues, can be uncomfortable for the patient and require medical attention. Suppose you notice your loved one’s feet becoming swollen. In that case, it is essential to consult their healthcare provider for further evaluation and management.


Puffy Hands

Some dementia patients may also experience swelling or puffiness in their hands. This could be due to fluid buildup in the tissues, a common occurrence in individuals with limited mobility, or other underlying health conditions. Gentle massage and elevation can be beneficial in reducing discomfort and improving circulation to address puffy hands. However, if the swelling persists or worsens, it is imperative to seek guidance from a healthcare professional to rule out any serious underlying issues.


Skin Temperature Fluctuations

 For a dementia caregiver, understanding the signs of impending death in patients is crucial. Skin temperature fluctuations can indicate significant changes in the patient’s condition. Here is a breakdown of the signs to watch for: 


Cold Touch

Even in a warm environment, a dementia patient may feel cold to the touch. This could indicate that their circulation is decreasing as their body begins to conserve energy.


Hot Spots

Temperature irregularities may also manifest as hot spots on the body, indicating a sudden surge in body temperature. This could be a sign of worsening internal imbalances in the patient’s system.

To better understand hot spots, caregivers should pay attention to any localized areas of increased warmth on the body. This could signal the body’s struggle to regulate temperature effectively during this crucial time.


Restlessness or Agitation

Many individuals in the late stages of dementia may display signs of restlessness or agitation. This behavior can manifest in various ways, indicating inner discomfort or distress that the patient may be unable to verbalize.


Physical Fidgeting

Little movements like fidgeting, pacing, or constantly changing positions can indicate physical discomfort or agitation in dementia patients. Paying close attention to these subtle cues can help caregivers provide comfort and support to alleviate the patient’s distress.


Emotional Discomfort

Even in the absence of physical discomfort, dementia patients may exhibit signs of emotional distress through their restlessness or agitation. It is vital to understand and address the underlying emotional needs of the individual to alleviate their discomfort effectively.

With a compassionate and proactive approach, caregivers can help ease the restlessness and agitation experienced by dementia patients in the final stages of their journey, providing them with the comfort and support they require.

Senior Restlessness

Senior Restlessness

Final Words

Conclusively, recognizing the ten signs that death is near in dementia patients is vital for providing the best care and support during this critical time. By understanding these indicators, caregivers and healthcare professionals can anticipate and plan for the end-of-life needs of those with dementia. It is essential to prioritize comfort, dignity, and respect for the individual throughout this process. If you have any concerns or questions about the 10 signs death is near dementia patients, please do not hesitate to contact Westmont of Encinitas at 760-452-6037 for guidance and support.



Q: What are the ten signs that death is near in dementia patients?

A: The ten signs that death is near in dementia patients may include increased weakness, decreased appetite, difficulty swallowing, changes in breathing patterns, increased sleeping, confusion and disorientation, changes in circulation, restlessness, decreased urine output, and changes in skin color.

Q: How can I prepare for the final stages of dementia in a loved one?

A: To prepare for the final stages of dementia in a loved one, it is essential to communicate with healthcare providers, ensure comfort measures are in place, seek support from hospice or palliative care services, discuss end-of-life wishes with the individual, and provide emotional support for both the patient and family members.

Q: What can I do to support someone with dementia who is nearing the end of life?

A: To support someone with dementia who is nearing the end of life, you can offer comfort through soothing presence, gentle touch, familiar music, and familiar scents. Communicating calmly, providing reassurance, and ensuring that the individual is as comfortable as possible is also essential.


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