My dad is sleeping all the time. Is this a sign that the end is near?

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My 82 year old father has been in a nursing home for 2 months. He's been steadily declining for about 6 months now. Loses his mind more often than not, doesn't know where he is, and talks to people he can't see. He's blind, but believes he is seeing things. We have him on comfort measures right now and have cut all his meds down to the bare necessities because of his failing kidney (one kidney).

Anyway, for the past week it seems like all he ever does is sleep. When we visit him, it's very difficult to wake him up. He'll stir, say hi to us, then fall asleep in the middle of whatever he's saying. Every time we visit, which is frequently, he is like this.

My question is, is this an indication that the end is near? It's been so hard to tell with him because he'll be near death, then rally back for a few months. He just needs it to be over. :( I hate to say it, but he's suffering and so miserable all the time.

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Top Answer
I'm not a doctor, but it certainly sounds like it. If he has dementia or ALZ, this is normal and expected. If he is already in a NH, they have a good idea of what's going on. It could also be a sign of heart failure as well.
Ask his primary care physician. If he has a mix of various different problems, it may be hard to tell which one is the cause of what's causing it.
You might want to contact hospice, if you haven't already. They will help you through this.
Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time.
My Mother is 96 almost 97. She has severe arthritis, she is not mobile, incontinent and very stubborn. She lives with my brother, 74, who has a severe heart condition, he is at he end of his rope, he can no longer care for her. She wil NOT go to a NH, wants to die at home. Hospice care or going to court to get medical guardianship is our last resort. Any suggestions on how to get her to agree to hospice in-home care or go to NH?
If he is now on hospice care, talk to the hospice staff. They can help you interpret his current symptoms. And yes, generally in this situation sleeping all the time in a sign of end stage. My husband is in that state too. We are preparing for the end, although no one knows exactly when that will be.
I agree with all the posts. That is what happened to my father towards the end as he became weaker. The comfort in all of this is that he isn't likely in pain when he is sleeping and this should give you some peace. Visit when he is most likely to be awake and alert and be sure to tell him you love him often during these moments.

Scorpio - Contact your local hospice and ask if they will come out and meet with you and/or you and your mother. You should also have some background from recent doctor visits to share with hospice. Another thought is to visit your local Senior Center and meet with the social worker there (sans Mom) and talk to them about your needs. They will help guide you in the right direction as well. It would be nice if you could get in-home or hospice care depending on the level of skilled care and how much care is going to be required. Best of luck to both of you.
His nursing home has its own palliative care system, which is a sort of hospice. I know this is going to sound crazy, but I haven't had the nerve to ask them how close he is. Don't get me wrong, we talk about his meds and care all the time, but I just haven't been able to say the words "is this the end?"
SueHunny, I think there is a time when we feel the inevitable but we have a difficult time knowing or wanting to know. It is a very difficult time. I told my mom that her Alzheimer's would get worse but am unable to tell her she will most likely pass away from it since she doesn't have any other illnesses. I feel it will happen but I don't want to know when, at this point. Don't feel ashamed or guilty for not being able to ask right now. It's a tough enough road to go on without feeling pressured to ask.
Bless your heart and prayers being sent.
My father slept a lot at the end. He was in hospice and on pain medicine for the first time during his whole illness (cancer). His body was just exhausted and then began shutting down. We kids knew what was happening even though Mom was in denial. Tell him you love him, whether he is awake or asleep.

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