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Geriatr Nurs. 2001 Nov-Dec;22(6):308-12.

Terminal restlessness in the nursing facility: assessment, palliation, and symptom management.

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University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC, USA.


Terminal restlessness, sometimes called agitated delirium, is a common occurrence at the end of life. This type of delirium may appear as thrashing or agitation, involuntary muscle twitching or jerks, fidgeting or tossing and turning, yelling, or moaning. Among older adults, especially those in long-term care situations, the delirium may not appear to be very different from previous episodes observed when the resident experienced an infection, exacerbation of a chronic condition, anxiety, pain, or adverse drug reactions. However, delirium at the end of life is usually multifactorial and exacerbated by the progressive shutdown of multiple body systems. Therefore, the effective management of terminal restlessness requires a different approach than the usual care of residents with delirium. For many nurses, this responsibility means adding new clinical knowledge and skills to their practice inventories. This article provides an overview of terminal restlessness, offers assessment guidelines for older adults in long-term care situations who are dying, and describes comfort and symptom management strategies for these individuals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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