How to recognise the signs of dying

Dying is unpredictable. It is not always possible to know for sure that a person is in the last days of life, predict exactly when a person will die, or know exactly what changes the person you are caring for will experience when they are dying.

However, there are certain bodily changes that show a person is likely to be close to death. It is normal for these signs to come and go over a period of days. If signs do stop, this does not usually mean that the person is recovering. This can be hard for distressed relatives to understand.

Some of these changes may be distressing, not only for family but also for staff caring for the person. It can be reassuring to know what to expect and how to help.