Hesperian Health Guides

Caring for Someone Who Is Near Death

At some point there is nothing more that can be done to treat a person with AIDS. You may know this time has come when:

  • the body starts to fail.
  • medical treatment is no longer effective or is not available.
  • the person says she is ready to die.

If the sick person wants to remain at home, you can help her die with dignity by:

  • giving comfort.
  • having family and friends stay with her.
  • allowing her to make decisions.
  • helping her prepare for death. It may help her to talk about death, about fears of dying, and about worries for the family’s future. It does not help to act as if she is not dying. Assure her that you will do what you can to prevent pain and discomfort. Talk about funeral arrangements if she wishes.
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As she nears death, she may be unconscious, stop eating, breathe very slowly or very fast and unevenly, stop passing urine, or lose control of passing urine or stool.

This page was updated:01 Feb 2021