My Mom was under Hospice care at home until the last 2 days of her life. She had a "death rattle". Is this choking on your saliva? - AgingCare.com

My Mom was under Hospice care at home until the last 2 days of her life. She had a "death rattle". Is this choking on your saliva?

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Mom did not seem to be in pain, but, she could not tell us for sure. the nurses said the saliva would build up in her mouth and she would be unable to swallow. I was afraid that she was choking when she passed. Is this possible?

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Rainmom, thank you for writing me. When I was with Mom she was asleep 4 days and the last 2 (in hospital) her throat was FULL of saliva and she appeared to be choking, They came in an suctioned her. Then during the night they called me to tell me she was on the decline and suctioning her every hour. Then they went in and she was gone. I asked if she choked and the nurse/aide? said she didnt know. Later on the phone I asked the dr and he said no, they stop breathing. He made me feel better but maybe thats what he wanted to do. I didnt go in when they called. It was 1230am, I was so scared to go, I would go at 6am but it was too late, the guilt there is hard also. She had a grand mal seizure on a monday and died friday. Since she hadnt walked ot talked and was on puree food, we withdrew fluids and let her go. Its hard :( Her health car proxy (and my memory) said she didnt want to live with a terminal disease, she wanted no bp meds, no artificial means to keep her alive, she wanted to die.
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I also have researched this. It's just excess saliva and perhaps some mucus combined with the last breath or two. That's a bit of an over simplification but truly your loved one felt no pain or even distress from this. However it's certainly understandable that it would stay with you as an uncomfortable and unpleasant memory. The term wouldn't be so infamous if it were something easily dismissed. I'm sorry for you loss.
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I watched my Mom go thru this a month ago and I cant get it off my mind either. I worried she choked to death. The dr said she didnt but no one was with her. I couldnt take it, it was horrible. I am glad to see this post as its something I cant shake.
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It's different than choking, it is more like the whole respiratory system is being to relax and not breathe in a regular pattern. Think about it; when you exhale, there is still some air in the lungs. But as the end is near, the exhale is complete, the chest relaxes. Often minutes will pass until the next inhale and you keep asking yourself "Is this the last one?"
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Yes - I researched the "death rattle" once and it is suspose to be from excess saliva in the person throat. It is not painful and does not induce choking. Please don't worry that it cause your loved one distress. I'm sorry for your loss.
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I'm so sorry for the loss of your mom. I'm sure that you being there for her was difficult, but a comfort to her. I don't know much about the question you ask, but I bet others here will respond. I know that Hospice tries to ensure that the patient is comfortable and does not experience pain in the end.
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