End-of-Life Transition

Thomas S. Ziering, MD, FAAFP

Morristown, NJ (formerly Bernardsville, NJ)

Although it isn’t always easy to talk about, end-of-life transition is something everyone needs to consider. If you or a loved one is terminally ill, taking the time to plan an end-of-life transition can provide peace and comfort during an incredibly challenging time. At his office in Morristown, New Jersey, Somerset, NJ, Monmouth County and Middlesex County, family practitioner Thomas S. Ziering, MD, and the team offer guidance and support during end-of-life transitions. To schedule an appointment, call the office or book a consultation online today.

End-of-Life Transition Q & A

What is end-of-life transition?

End-of-life transition refers to a person’s journey to death, especially in those with a terminal diagnosis. This process occurs differently for everyone. For some, it takes days or weeks; for others, it occurs rapidly. Partnering with a trusted medical team during this time can limit pain.

Dr. Ziering has years of experience caring for terminally ill patients. He and his team provide a caring, compassionate environment for people of all ages, races, sexual orientations, gender identities, and backgrounds. Throughout this trying time, they provide comfort, reassurance, and high-quality medical care that eases both physical and emotional discomfort.

What are the phases of death?

Death occurs in two separate phases: the pre-active phase of dying and the active phase of dying. End-of-life transition ensures both of these phases occur with dignity, comfort, and respect.

Pre-active phase of dying

The pre-active phase of dying usually occurs two to three weeks prior to death. During this time, patients experience symptoms such as:

  • Increased periods of sleep and lethargy
  • Withdrawal from social interaction
  • Restlessness, confusion, or agitation
  • Hallucinations of previously deceased loved ones
  • Inability to heal from wounds or infections

During the pre-active phase of dying, many people also grasp the significance of their illness. They make peace with the fact that the end of life is near.

Active phase of dying

The active phase of dying usually occurs two to three days prior to death. During this time, patients experience symptoms such as:

  • Inability to consume or swallow food or drink
  • Abnormal breathing patterns
  • Respiratory congestion
  • Urinary or bowel incontinence
  • Low blood pressure
  • Cold feet, hands, fingers, and toes

During the active phase of dying, it’s important to hold vigil around your loved one. There’s no way to predict the exact moment of death, but being there allows you to offer your care, love, and support.

What is Medical Aid in Dying (MAID)?

Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) allows terminally ill patients to request and receive prescription medication that triggers a peaceful end-of-life transition. New Jersey is one of only a handful of states that allow this.

To qualify for MAID, you must have six months or less to live, be mentally capable, and able to self-ingest (swallow) the medication. Once you receive the prescription, you don’t necessarily have to use it. Some people find comfort in the fact that the option is available. 

MAID also allows you to complete your end-of-life transition from the comfort of home, rather than a hospital, nursing home, or hospice facility. 

If you or a loved one is terminally ill and you want to learn more about end-of-life transition, schedule an appointment at the practice of Thomas S. Ziering, MD. Call the office and speak with a compassionate staff member or book a consultation online today.