Mottling and Gurgling Sounds

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My grandmother started Monday making gurgling sounds. She began getting choked on yogurt. The Hospice nurse said that her lungs were clear, so she had not aspirated. Tuesday she stopped making the gurgling sounds but Wednesday her heels of her feet were black and it went up to her kness. Her feet were extremely cold. The whole family was called in and we thought she would pass. By time the nurse came that afternoon, the mottling was almost completely gone and her feet were warming back up. I do not understand what is happening. A few months ago, they could not get a pulse and she had started mottling then too. But she carried on. She has not had a bowel movement in over a week and since Monday morning her kidneys have moved only 3 times. She is still eating between 6 - 9 ounces of yogurt a day and drinking juices with Thick it. I feel like I have been on a roller coaster and I worry about her all of the time. Its not that I want my grandma to die, but she just lays there with no life at all. I just want her to be at peace with God in heaven. I dont think she is in much pain but I feel so bad that all she can do is lie there. The nurses tell us "It's just part of the process" I know that no one can tell me when, but I would like to know more of what to expect. What typically happens? I need answers and have searched everywhere. My family is wore out and just trying to hold on. Could someone just let me know typically how long does a person live after these signs?

14 Comments

Unfortunately, mottling is one of the keystone signs of the journey in the final stages towards death. There is no set pattern just as we all are individuals.

Here are 3 good guides for you & your family to reference:
The Hospice Foundation of America: The Dying Process: A Guide for Caregivers;
Barbara Karnes: Gone From My Sight: The Dying Experience
&
Sherwin Nuland, M.D.: How We Die

Remember "hearing" is the last ability to go.
Yeah the gurgling sound is a sign of the final stages. Working in home health field. That sound I have heard so many times some refer to it as the "death rattle" but I not prefer not to think of it that way. Think of it as a sign, that they will be going on to a better place, where there is no sickness.
5 years ago my father(61) was having some issues but nothing actually life ending. For 2 days he was making that rattling sound and was tired. I suggested him to go to ER. They gave him a clean bill of health other than his previous issues. ER DR said he was having a panic attack???? Hearing that familiar sound I knew something else was going on. Less than 24hrs later, he left this world suddenly in his sleep with a smile on his face. That gave us reassurance that he went in peace. Its hard to watch someone slip away in front of you. Its makes you feel helpless that you need to do more. Make every moment count! It will help when the time comes.
add-on from my experience the longest I seen a hospice patient survive after making those noises was 2 months. But I have seen others go so shortly. So this is really no time frame. sorry I can't give you any time frame to ease your mind. Make her as comfortable as possible. My prayers are with you.
Thank you all for your responses and prayers. I know God will take her when he gets ready.
Today they were able to sit my grandmother up in a chair for the first time in several months. She had a good day and that makes me happy. Only God knows what he is doing. I just thank him for giving her a good day.
Once they are in the active stage of dying its usualy within 2 to 3 days, they also have a day there towards the last where they perk up kinda like one last energy spurt.
My grandmother's hair is falling out now in clumps. IS this normal?
I have seen it, it can happen when they are low on protien. I also saw it in an elderly realitive. Not sure what caused it but he was on dialasis.
Out of the blue my grandmother had 3 seizures back to back. She was admitted into the hospital, given anti seizure medications and she has been in a comatose state every since. She had not eaten in about 7 day and the doctor inserted a feeding tube, well her body was rejecting the nutrients and the tube seemed to be blocked. The following morning a feeding tube was inserted into her stomach and it as well was rejecting the nutrients and she was only able to take 1 tsp of liquid. Now today she started this loud raspy breathing. I'm so scared because people say that within 24 hours of that noisy breathing they usually pass away.
Certainly not an ecpert but ive been with lots of family and friends when they died. Mottling usually occurs 72 hrs or so before passing. But have seen yhem have intrrmittent epidodes prior to final time. Gurgling happens in some and not in others. If they have been asleep/ unconcious they will sometimes open eyes shortly before death. The last stages are hard toput a time on but you will usually notice changes that alert you time is short.

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