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I know no one knows how long the process of dying takes, so this is a bit of a rhetorical question. My mother was virtually incoherent a couple of weeks ago and only drank sips of water. Yesterday she was lucid (although weak) and ordered an omelet from her AL kitchen. We warmed it up and fed her small bites. Today she spent time with the chaplain and said she was hungry. It seems she keeps rallying. I want her to live but I know being bedridden in hospice is not contributing to her quality of life. How long can this go on?

Probably for as long as your mother wants it to. She will have good days, and what we might consider bad days, but as long as she is at peace and not in pain it is very normal. My mother can facetime us and we see this alternation of days - sometimes I feel I should contact the facility she is in, but in reality one knows they will simply say she is getting older and they slow down mentally (even without dementia) and eat and drink less, its just an aging process which as you say, no one can put a time to until very near the end. Give her your love and let her know she has done a good job bringing you up and living a good life, you know she wants peace when she is ready.
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Reply to TaylorUK
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What you describe is typical with aging and it is not going to get better. Sometimes it will appear she is rallying but in reality that is how the game plays itself out . You think a miracle is happening and next you see doom. Be prepared for this and know it is normal. Just love her while you can and realize you can't change what is coming. the fact she is in hospice is not the problem, it is the aging process and it will hit all of us.
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dseag2 Oct 22, 2021
Riley, thank you for your response. I spoke with the hospice nurse yesterday and she said the nurse at AL said my mom had eaten all her breakfast, but she said she is still too weak to move from her bed. She is definitely rallying, but I know good news will be sporadic and I'm ready for the bad news because I honestly just don't want to see her suffer anymore. I'm visiting her tomorrow and I'm not looking forward to it.
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Thank you, everyone, for you beneficial input. We visited her again today. She was in bed under covers when we got there and pretty calm. But she did groan very loudly at one point, tell me not to leave her and say "I want to go home". She drank a few sips of Ensure and a few sips of water. When the nurse came in and mentioned they sang together my mother sang the chorus of a hymn.

She asked when they were going to change her, but when they did come in to change her behind closed doors I could hear her yelling and saying "Owww. I can't do that." It just broke my heart.

She was agitated before we left so they administered Lorazepam and she was sleeping peacefully when we left. The Medical Director did tell me that patients often rally in their last days. I know it could be days or weeks. Someone did make the great point that her mother looked more like her grandfather. My mother does look very much like my grandfather these days.

Again, thank you for your input and your thoughts.
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Llamalover47 Oct 20, 2021
dseag2: Thank you for your update. Praying for you.
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My motherinlaw died in March of 2021 about 4 weeks after her 96th birthday. Leading up to her birthday, she talked incessantly about her family who was coming to visit from out of town for her birthday. She was also increasingly confused, eating less and sleeping more. After the family visit, she seemed satisfied, like a major goal had been achieved. When she was alert, she would say things like “ why hasn’t God taken me yet?” And we said, it isn’t your time. She had a lot of anxiety about it but also insisted she was ready to go. She ate less and less. 5 days before she died she was thirsty and asked for iced tea and drank it. She wanted something sweet to eat and had a couple of bites of cake. I took a picture because it was so nice to see her enjoying her cake. After that she didn’t eat or drink anymore. On Monday, the hospice nurse predicted she had “hours to days” left. That hit me hard, as if I only then realized she would soon be leaving us. She was mostly unresponsive but had moments of clarity, and in one of those moments we said our goodbyes. Two days later, I said to my husband, her breathing has changed. And after 2 sharp intakes of breath with a long interval in between, she was gone. It is hard to know when that time will come but the hospice nurse was uncannily accurate. The process of dying and helping those who are dying is a time set apart. I wish you peace and pray for God’s comforting presence in the time you have remaining with your loved one and in the time that follows.
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dseag2: Imho, it is quite common for the elderly patient to rally. Prayers sent to you.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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There are no real answers. Different people die differently. My mother lived for 3 weeks after she quit taking any liquids, contrary to many things you read about not being able to live 3 days or a week without water. Mom was not particularly healthy, but she was really tough. The hospital told us she would only live for a few days or up to a week after she opted to refuse treatment for kidney failure. It was 3 weeks plus 1 day. The date of death also has nothing to do with the spiritual or psychological well-being of the nearly departed. Just because a person is "ready" or "afraid" does not mean they will die any quicker or any more slowly.

My best hope for you is that you will be able to relax a bit and have patience as the process works. My sisters and I tried to support each other and we tried to take turns visiting Mom and reading to her. Taking a turn reading to her turned out to be very soothing. There was the hope that she could hear and take pleasure in hearing her favorite poems and short stories. There was also the distraction from the knowledge that she was soon leaving us. Whatever your relationship to the dying parent, this is a very stressful time. Try to get enough rest and try to take as many breaks as you need to avoid being overwhelmed by the process.
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Reply to LittleOrchid
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Depending on their health and will to live and how much they eat and drink.
Someone can be on Hospice over a Year. I believe a RN Nurse will check the person every 6 months to make sure they should still be on Hospice as that is what they do regarding my Dad.
Beffort a person dies, they usually stop eating and drinking. You can live up to a month without food but only up to a week without water.
Also. a good sign is what is called a Death Rattle. Google it.

Prayers
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Nakeeta Oct 22, 2021
Not true. Some people last 3 weeks without fluids. Hard to fathom but true. The human body is ridiculous in its determination to survive.
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It really is unpredictable. My mother, father and brother in law have all passed away. Each circumstance was different. My thought is that it depends on the physical cause, as well as the person. Someone who isn't ready will cling on. Someone who is will let go. I think in most of these situations God, or the universe, or whatever higher power you believe in, leaves the decision of the final moment up to you.
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Honest to goodness, dying is a rollercoaster. You just never know when it'll happen. My mom was on it for years, but once it finally came, in hindsight I knew she was actively dying about three days before she went, because she suddenly began to look like a completely different person.

She was in bed and not really awake, but she'd been that way for a few weeks. I came to visit her, and noticed she was looking just like her father. She never resembled her father, because his face was angular, and Mom's was round and softer. Well, go figure -- under those chubby cheeks were all those angles. She looked like an entirely different person, then three days later she was gone.
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Reply to MJ1929
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For some people mottled skin could be a sign death is near, especially if it also feels cool to the touch
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Reply to Cover99
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My husband was completely bedridden in our home and under hospice care for the last 22 months of his life. There were several times during that time that hospice told me that they thought the end was near, but he continued living. We must not forget that only God knows the day and the time when He will call our loved ones home, so we must be patient and just enjoy whatever time we have left with them.
On Aug.5th 2020, my husband was in a partial coma, and hospice told me that he would be dead in 3 days. Well long story short, he didn't end up dying until Sept. 14th 2020, after not eating for 41 days, and not drinking for about 25 days.
As the body prepares itself for the dying process, it no longer needs or wants food and drink, as the digestive system is shutting down and it can actually be quite painful to try and do either. My husband during his 6 week dying process never once asked for food, and only occasionally asked for a few sips of his drink. So let your mother be your guide. She will let you know what if anything she needs or wants. And in the meantime, just enjoy your time with her, and make sure that you leave nothing left unsaid. God bless you and your mother.
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Nakeeta Oct 22, 2021
Oh gosh that must have been miserable for him. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm a newbie here and have noticed your beautifully written posts. I'm glad you're still here contributing. God bless you! <3
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Talk to the Hospice nurse about the signs they look for to determine if a person is “actively dying “. There are changes in breathing, changes in skin coloration, there may be a time when she refuses food and fluids, a change in urine color this is just a few of the things that might happen. It is also possible that she will be fine, fall asleep and pass in her sleep. You can never tell when or how.
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