Common Signs of Approaching Death

Death can be sudden or gradual.  Certain physical changes occur that can be recognized as signs and symptoms of approaching death.  Vital signs and skin color are often affected.  Disorientation, confusion, and reduced responsiveness may occur.  Vision, taste, and touch usually diminish.  However, hearing is often present until death occurs.

Common signs of approaching death include the following:

  • Blurred and failing vision.
  • Unfocused eyes.
  • Impaired speech.
  • Diminished sense of touch.
  • Loss of movement, muscle tone, and feeling.
  • A rising or below-normal body temperature.
  • Decreasing blood pressure.
  • Weak pulse that is abnormally slow or rapid.
  • Slow, irregular respirations or rapid, shallow respirations.
  • A “rattling” or “gurgling” sound as the person breathes.
  • Cold, pale skin.
  • Mottling, spotting, or blotching of skin caused by poor circulation.
  • Disorientation or confusion