Chapter 3: Outlining what to expect

1-2 weeks prior to death

Patients and families may or may not notice physical, cognitive and behavioural changes during this time that may be very hard to accept. You can help by asking questions and by normalizing what is happening.

Remember that not every person will experience all of these symptoms. When present, they are only indicators that death may be approaching relatively soon.


  • Existing symptoms become more pronounced. See previous section, "1 - 3 months prior to death".
  • The rate of change may accelerate noticeably.
  • Changes in personality
  • Agitation
  • Suspiciousness
  • Decreased alertness
  • Decreased concentration
  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Delirium and hallucinations
Click on each item for more detail

Conversation Prompts

Have you noticed any physical changes or changes in their behaviour or thoughts?

Has anything new happened in the last week that is troubling?