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Caring for your loved one - Understanding the Final Hours

Brochures; Caregiver Tips



The ‘final hours’ refer to the period just before death occurs, which may range from hours to short days.
This aims to guide you through the physical symptoms to expect during the final hours as you prepare to say goodbye to your loved one.


1. Spending more time sleeping
May be difficult to arouse or respond to you

2. Not eating
Reduced interest in food or drinks as body begins to conserve energy naturally
However if still alert, may feed small teaspoons of their favourite drinks or food to allow pleasure tasting

3. Confusion
Reduced conscious level
Sometimes may appear restless in bed, gesture with hands, or speak incoherently

4. Lowered body temperature
Fingers and toes become cool to touch as body redirects blood circulation to vital organs
Purplish blue discolouration appear at the palms and soles of feet

5. Reduced urine output
A result of reduced intake 

6. Change in breathing pattern
Tends to breathe with mouth open as muscles become more relaxed
May develop deep, rapid breathing alternating with periods of shallower breathing or cessation of breathing

7. Gurgling 
Collection of saliva and mucus at back of throat
A result of loss of coughing or swallowing reflexes


​Communicate when your loved one is most alert. Hold his/ her hand and speak gently into the ear using short, simple sentences. If drowsy, continue to talk calmly and reassuringly as hearing is the last sense to be lost

4 important things you may want to say to express your feelings:
Please forgive me
I forgive you
Thank you
I love you

You may also play your loved one’s favourite music softly in the room, or to recite prayers to provide spiritual reassurance


1. Dover Park Hospice, Singapore
2. Singapore Hospice Council 
Health Tip; Brochure

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