Deterioration in the last days of life (terminal phase) can be rapid and can be a time of great change in the patient’s condition. Understanding when death is imminent allows the clinical team and the family to prepare, ensuring that the patient is comfortable.
The following symptoms, commonly seen in the terminal phase, are treated in more depth in the section Symptoms and Medicines
Symptoms and medicines information related to the terminal phase can also be accessed via the palliAGEDgp and palliMEDS apps. Only palliAGEDgp is specific to the care of older people.
Planning for a Home Death is a checklist of things to consider and discuss from CareSearch.
This document from caring at home and ANZSPM summarises prescribing advice (136kb pdf) for the community.
The Guide to the Pharmacological Management of End of Life (Terminal) Symptoms in Residential Aged Care Residents: A Resource for General Practitioners (259kb pdf) can provide more information on prescribing at the end of life for residents living in residential aged care. Based on the date of publication (2013) this document should be used with caution and with reference to more current resources such as the palliAGEDgp App and the Therapeutic Guidelines (subscription required).
Medicines from the PBS Prescriber's bag
Sometimes people can deteriorate suddenly. In this case anticipatory medicines may not have been arranged. The PBS prescriber's bag list (155kb pdf) includes a number of medications that can be used to relieve symptoms in this situation.
Page updated 31 May 2021