Terminal Restlessness

The mind and body can go through a lot of changes and challenges when a person is approaching the end of their life. These changes can manifest in a lot of ways, one of which is called terminal restlessness. As a Tulsa palliative care provider, we’re quite accustomed to dealing with this condition and helping families manage the symptoms. Terminal restlessness can include confusion, anxiousness, and angry outbursts.  

This is more than a simple mood swing or temporary bout of bewilderment; some suffering from terminal restlessness can seem like a different person entirely. Hospice patients with terminal restlessness may lash out at family members with irate claims and demand to see the doctor or speak to the authorities. In some cases, hallucinations have even been reported.


The first step in treating terminal restlessness is identifying the root cause of the illness. Terminal restlessness can stem from multiple places, such as:

  • Increased levels of calcium
  • Fever
  • Infections or sepsis
  • Medication
  • Pain
  • Constipation
  • Emotional unrest
  • Swelling of the brain
  • Vital organs shutting down

While some of these causes can be treated, others are unfortunately just a part of the final stages of life and, at best, can only be managed. Regardless of the root cause, the primary goal of treating terminal restlessness should always be to keep the patient safe. Installing safety rails to their bed and keeping a close eye on them can help avoid falling accidents.

Watching a loved one go through terminal restlessness can be emotionally draining as a family. At Cura-HPC we offer bereavement counseling to patients’ family members as one of our hospice care services. We believe hospice and palliative care is meant to take care of the entire family. If your family is in need of hospice services, call Cura-HPC.