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Ear changes in the dying pt

Specializes in LTC.

My mother told me that she heard 20 years ago (she's a cna) that a person's ears curl backward when they are toward the end. She says it sets in even before mottling does. I guess being new and haven't yet experienced many deaths that I have not noticed it. She says in almost every person she has seen pass this has happened. Has anyone else heard of this? Do you know what causes it?

gagezoie said:
My mother told me that she heard 20 years ago (she's a cna) that a person's ears curl backward when they are toward the end. She says it sets in even before mottling does. I guess being new and haven't yet experienced many deaths that I have not noticed it. She says in almost every person she has seen pass this has happened. Has anyone else heard of this? Do you know what causes it?

Never heard or saw any such thing.(Late Entry)Apology to the OP, your Mom was right!

I have seen a number of dying pts whose earlobes drop back and get kinda saggy. They also develop an earlobe crease a lot of times. At the hospice where I worked, this was a common sign we watched for. We'd say "So and so's ears have dropped."

It's especially noticable when a pt is lying on their back. Their earlobes hang down. It's as if all the fluid has gone out of them. I don't know what causes this.

Valerie Salva said:
I have seen a number of dying pts whose earlobes drop back and get kinda saggy. They also develop an earlobe crease a lot of times. At the hospice where I worked, this was a common sign we watched for. We'd say "So and so's ears have dropped."

It's especially noticable when a pt is lying on their back. Their earlobes hang down. It's as if all the fluid has gone out of them. I don't know what causes this.

No kidding!! Wow, I have heard about a crease in the earlobe of people with cardiovascular disease.Never to old to learn, I guess.

Hospice Nurse LPN, BSN, RN

Specializes in LTC, Psych, Hospice.

Valerie is correct. It's one of the changes we look for in our patients, also. Usually noticed before the mottling begins.

yep, it is true, it does happen and I always assumed it was from dehydration---------a normal part of the dying process.

linzz

Specializes in Geriatrics, Med-Surg..

I was lucky enough to have a preceptor teach me this while we were taking care of a palliative patient. I doubt I would have picked this up on my own.

nightmare, LPN

Specializes in Nursing Home ,Dementia Care,Neurology..

Must look out for this,can't say I've ever noticed before!

SDS_RN, RN

Specializes in CNA, Surgical, Pediatrics, SDS, ER.

I was an aide for 4 yrs and nurse now going on 2 yrs and this is the first time I've heard this. Good info to know!

jmER said:
I was an aide for 4 yrs and nurse now going on 2 yrs and this is the first time I've heard this. Good info to know!

Don't feel bad - I was a nurse for many years, and took care of a multitude of dying patients, and I'd never heard of that!

banditrn said:
Don't feel bad - I was a nurse for many years, and took care of a multitude of dying patients, and I'd never heard of that!

Me neither, I guess old dogs can learn new tricks.;)

sharlynn

Specializes in ICU, CCU,Wound Care,LTC, Hospice, MDS.

I was told when I started in Hospice that noses get pointy, too.

noc4senuf

Specializes in Geriatrics, WCC.

I was told this back in the 70's and still note it on each dying resident to this day.

webbiedebbie

Specializes in OB, Telephone Triage, Chart Review/Code.

How soon after you see this does the pt pass on? I know there will be some circumstances and everyone is different. Just curious.

Hospice Nurse LPN, BSN, RN

Specializes in LTC, Psych, Hospice.

webbiedebbie said:
How soon after you see this does the pt pass on? I know there will be some circumstances and everyone is different. Just curious.

I have noticed it before the mottling begins...so anywhere from a day to a week. At least that's been my experience.

Having been a CNA for as many years as I was, I have taken care of too many dying patients to count. Honestly, I never noticed any changes in the ears. Then again, I wasn't really looking at the ears to note any changes, so I guess there could have been changes, I just wasn't watching for it.

Interesting :idea:, you DO learn something new every day. From now on, I'll be sure to note the ears of a dying patient.

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