Our glossary explains some of the medical and legal terms used in palliative care. Glossary words are underlined in the Topics and Asked and Answered sections, with definitions appearing when you hover on a word.
A gurgling or rattling noise produced when air passes over pooled secretions in the throat of a person who is unconscious or too weak to clear secretions on his or her own.
A drop in the body’s fluid level below what’s needed for normal body functioning. It results from decreased fluid intake and/or excessive loss of water from diarrhea, vomiting or sweating.
A sudden change in how the brain functions that results in poor memory, sleep disturbances, disorientation, decreased attention, and changes in perception such as hallucinations. Can develop over hours or days.
A medical condition that affects how a person thinks, feels, and acts. Diagnosed by the presence of the first two symptoms and any of the others for at least two weeks:
A quality inherent in all people, of being worthy, which merits esteem and respect. The expression of one’s dignity is unique to each individual.
A type of medication used to remove water from the body by increasing the amount of urine produced by the kidneys. Available by prescription. Also known as water pills.
The sense of not being able to get enough air (hunger for air). Breathing may be faster or slower than usual, and can feel difficult or painful. Often causes anxiety, which in turn aggravates the condition.
Our team of experts answers your questions about life-threatening illness and loss.
What can I do to support my wife who's dying and let her know she won't be forgotten?
How long can someone live without food and water?
My dad doesn't want to talk about his illness. How can I talk to him about it?
How can I support my husband who's been diagnosed with cancer and is waiting for test results?
When Death is Near - Learn more about changes people may experience in the final days of life.
Health Care Directives - Having a health care directive can ensure treatment decisions are respected.
Considerations for a Home Death - How you can prepare to provide care at home.
Lack of Appetite - What you can do when someone loses interest in food.
A remarkable story of how onehospice volunteer connects withpatients and families throughtheir feet.