According to one article, those on their deathbeds can survive between 10 and 14 days without food and water. Some longer periods of survival have been noted, but are less common. Keep in mind that people who are bedridden aren’t using much energy. A person who is healthy and mobile would likely perish much sooner.
If you stop eating and drinking, death can occur as early as a few days, though for most people, approximately ten days is the norm. In rare instances, the process can take as long as several weeks.
Signs that the body is actively shutting down are:
If a person stops eating or drinking because of their reduced appetite, this may be hard to accept, but it is a normal part of the dying process. If they stop drinking, their mouth may look dry, but this does not always mean they are dehydrated. It is normal for all dying people eventually to stop eating and drinking.
One study in Archiv Fur Kriminologie concluded that you can’t survive more than 8 to 21 days without food and water. People on their deathbed who are using very little energy may live only a few days or a few weeks without food and water.
Five Physical Signs that Death is Nearing
What happens when someone dies? In time, the heart stops and they stop breathing. Within a few minutes, their brain stops functioning entirely and their skin starts to cool. At this point, they have died.
End-of-Life Signs: The Final Days and Hours
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” However, there are actually seven stages that comprise the grieving process: shock and disbelief, denial, pain, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance/hope.
The end-of-life period—when body systems shut down and death is imminent—typically lasts from a matter of days to a couple of weeks. Some patients die gently and tranquilly, while others seem to fight the inevitable. Reassuring your loved one it is okay to die can help both of you through this process.
When someone is no longer taking in any fluid, and if he or she is bedridden (and so needs little fluid) then this person may live as little as a few days or as long as a couple of weeks. In the normal dying process people lose their sense of hunger or thirst.
When someone is nearing the end of life, they experience a variety of symptoms. Pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, incontinence, constipation, delirium, and restlessness are just a few signs that a loved one is going through the dying process.
The median durations of bedridden status were 2 years and 3 months among those at home and 3 months among inpatients. The proportion of subjects bedridden for less than 6 months was greater among inpatients (p < 0.0001).
Hallucinations. It is not unusual for a person who is dying to experience some hallucinations or distorted visions. Although this may seem concerning, a person caring for a dying loved one should not be alarmed.
The brain is the first organ to begin to break down, and other organs follow suit. Living bacteria in the body, particularly in the bowels, play a major role in this decomposition process, or putrefaction. This decay produces a very potent odor. “Even within a half hour, you can smell death in the room,” he says.