When someone is nearing end-of-life, developing a fever is fairly common.

 
In the final days or hours, you may notice your loved one’s temperature increases. This could be a low grade fever around 99 degrees F or, in my experience, I have even seen it over 106 degrees F.

 

Fever at end-of-life develops because as the body systems are slowing and shutting down, it becomes more difficult for the body to regulate their temperature. It could also be due to a variety of other reasons including infection or metabolic changes when someone has certain diseases or cancers.

 
If your loved one is still able to safely swallow, Tylenol or ibuprofen can be given to reduce the fever. If your loved one is not able to safely swallow, Tylenol also comes in a rectal suppository form. Do not be surprised if they begin sweating, sometimes profusely, about an hour after administering Tylenol, this is due to the fever breaking. You may need to bathe them or change their clothing or linens to keep them clean, dry, and comfortable.

 

Aside from medications, there are plenty of natural ways to assist in fever reduction such as:

 

  • Remove any heavy linens, blankets, or clothing.

  • Place cool washcloths on the forehead, back of the neck, and underarms

  • Provide a tepid-water sponge bath

  • If they are diaphoretic (sweating), change any wet linen or clothing

  • Keep the room temperature lower

  • Use a small fan

  • Fill a bowl or basin, ¾ full of ice and place it in front of the fan

 
At end-of-life, it can be difficult for the body to maintain and regulate a normal body temperature. You can assist your loved one by keeping them clean, dry and comfortable during this process and by utilizing the techniques mentioned here.