Patient Referral

Diabetes End-of-Life Signs

When it comes to treating diabetes at the end-of-life, the goal of hospice care is to keep the patient as comfortable as possible, rather than focusing on trying to keep glucose levels within the target range. While individuals are admitted to hospice with the diagnosis of diabetes, it’s more common that diabetes is part of a comorbidity, meaning the patient has diabetes but also has other life-limiting diseases and secondary conditions.

Even so, caregivers should know the diabetes end-of-life signs, as well as what complications may arise.

What are the signs of end-of-life due to diabetes?

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes at the end-of-life can lead to several complications. Recognizing whether a patient has the symptoms of high or low blood glucose can help avoid complications. If you recognize any of the following end-of-life diabetes signs, please contact the patient’s primary care physician or hospice care provider.

Signs of high blood glucose include:

  • Using the bathroom frequently
  • Increased drowsiness
  • Infections
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Itching
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness in fingers/toes
  • Wounds that are slow to heal

Signs of low blood glucose include:

  • Feeling irritable or anxious
  • Trembling and sweating
  • Paleness
  • Palpitations
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating

Tips for managing end-of-life Diabetes symptoms.

Keeping blood glucose levels within the target range may be difficult at the end of life and therefore is not as much of a priority. Instead, managing the end of life for a diabetes patient should focus on comfort.

At this stage, the patient’s pertinent symptoms of any ailment should be managed. Keeping blood sugar within a certain range is not a priority. In the final days of life, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) can develop quickly and can result in a diabetic coma. It’s important to consider the preferences of the patient and their level of consciousness when deciding whether to continue insulin therapy.

What you can do for your loved one.

Being present for your loved one in their time of need is one of the most important things you can do. Sometimes just being a comforting presence to your loved one is enough. As a family caregiver, you can also make sure to pay attention for the signs of end-of-life diabetes and report them to your loved one’s medical service providers.

How hospice can help with end-stage Diabetes.

Hospice supports patients and their loved ones by providing many services that help satisfy their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. For patients experiencing the diabetes end-of-life signs, our hospice teams provide expert pain, symptom, and medication management to ensure the patient’s comfort during the final stage of their life. Many diabetic patients and their families also find hospice helpful when making decisions about medical care.

The Crossroads team consists of doctors, nurses, aides, social workers, and volunteers ready to help. If you would like to learn more, please call 855-327-4677 at any time for help or contact us online.

End-of-Life signs by disease.

Learn about the specific end-of-life signs of common diseases and illnesses:

More end-of-life resources.