Terminal decline is the decline in function that is observed in the last years of life and culminates in death. This entry describes methods to study terminal decline, summarizes what is known about trajectories of terminal decline in multiple domains, highlights the extent of individual differences in terminal decline, and addresses potential mechanisms underlying the declines.

Methods to Study Terminal Decline

Studies of terminal decline describe intraindividual change in multiple domains of function that occur at the end of life. In earlier life phases, developmental trajectories are typically characterized with respect to age, a time metric that indicates how many years have passed since an individual’s birth. In studies of terminal decline, developmental trajectories are instead characterized with respect to a different event, death, with time-to-death indicating ...

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