NewsExploring the phases of death: Insights from a New York geriatrician

Exploring the phases of death: Insights from a New York geriatrician

There are four stages of death
There are four stages of death
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9:42 AM EDT, March 29, 2024

Zachary Palace, a geriatrician based in New York, has witnessed the death of his patients on multiple occasions due to his field of expertise. His deep medical understanding, combined with these experiences, allows him to articulate the dying process and its distinct phases that the human body undergoes.

Blood pressure drops

The journey towards death varies based on an individual's physical condition at the time - whether it's due to an illness or chronic health issues, the body's response alters. Nonetheless, the process invariably leads to the progressive weakening of bodily functions.

One of the initial signs is a reduction in blood pressure, which, according to Dr. Palace, results in pale skin. He mentions that it's common for fingers to feel cold or turn blue, accompanied by a faint pulse.

Breathing also changes, gradually slowing down. In instances where illness has debilitated the body, breathing may become erratic, potentially hastening the dying process.

Loss of consciousness with brain alertness

Subsequently, the individual loses consciousness, though there's ambiguity among scientists regarding complete unawareness during this phase.

One might experience periods of agitation or confusion. Otherwise, the transition into unconsciousness is gradual. Despite the lack of awareness, the dying might breathe noisily, which, as Dr. Kathryn Mannix of "Science Focus" magazine notes, is not cause for alarm.

Particularly fascinating are the findings about brain activity in the final moments. It appears the brain retains the ability to process sounds, demonstrating responsiveness to auditory stimuli even in deep unconsciousness until the final hours.

Dr. Palace highlights the brain's continued sensitivity to environmental sounds in those nearing death, even when unconscious. The impact of music and other sounds on those in terminal stages remains under investigation.

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