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Some people become restless and even agitated (upset, tense) during a serious illness. These feelings of agitation could have a physical cause or be related to knowing you have a life-altering or life-limiting illness. A common time that people may become agitated is when they have moved to a new setting.

We may not be able to make these feelings go away, but we can help you manage them better, with or without using medicine.


When you are restless or agitated, you may:

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  • not be able to relax or calm your mind,
  • sleep very little,
  • make faces or clench your teeth, or
  • have trouble breathing.

Restlessness and agitation may become more intense in the last days of life, which may cause a person to:

  • cry out or moan,
  • pull or pick at clothes or bed linens,
  • attempt to remove their clothing, or
  • move in bed or try to get out of bed all the time.

What can you do to reduce restlessness and uneasy feelings?

  • Listen to soothing music.
  • Allow yourself to cry.
  • Talk with a loved one or other trusted person about your feelings.
  • Keep the room peaceful and quiet.
  • Turn down bright lights.



Suggestions for family/caregivers:


When should you report restlessness or agitation?

Let your doctor or hospice team know if you feel restless. They will look for causes, such as pain, trouble with your bowels, trouble breathing, medication side effects, low blood sugar, personal concerns or fear.

Your health care providers and hospice team will work with you to treat and manage these feelings. We may suggest medication or talking through your fears and concerns.


Hospice Caregiver Support

If you need help urgently for an Agrace Hospice Care patient, please call. Otherwise, email us directly at caregiversupport@agrace.org, or send your questions through our online contact form.

Call (800) 553-4289

Call to talk to an interpreter / Tenemos intérpretes disponibles: (800) 930-2770


More Care Tips for Families

For more expert advice from Agrace, visit Agrace.org/CareTips.