Terminal Agitation

Terminal agitation or, as I like to call it, the heebie jebbies, seem to occur at the end-stage of the individual's illness and can really catch you by surprise. Most people are unaware that this even exists. So what is it?

Terminal agitation is a restlessness, and is also called "terminal restlessness". It is a sort of fluttery feeling inside. This can occur with even the mildest-mannered individuals. Even if your loved one is extremely weak and has been bed-bound, they may suddenly feel a need to get up and walk. They can't seem to stay still.

You may have to do a quick checklist of things to determine if your loved one is experiencing this restlessness. You should look for the following:

-Has their pain been well controlled?

-Could they be constipated?

-If they have a tube draining their bladder, is it kinked?

-Do they have a fever?

-Are they having any difficulty breathing?

If your family member is not constipated, their pain is well controlled, they are without fevers (afebrile), and do not have any kinked tubes or breathing problems, chances are what they are experiencing is terminal restlessness.

As always, you should notify your loved one's physician or hospice nurse when you see any change in friend or family member’s condition. The more information you can provide the better. The most common treatment is the use of a medication called Ativan (Lorazapam); however, there are several other mediations which could be effective in providing your loved one with relief from the heebie jebbies.

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