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Old 09-13-2010, 09:12 PM
 
Location: Missouri
6,046 posts, read 22,045,659 times
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Marylee - it sounds like you have found comfort in the posts people have shared here. Most hospices provide follow-up services to the bereaved for 12 months. If you are interested, the hospice agency would surely welcome a call from you, to discuss how you are feeling. A social worker or nurse can help you make sense of what your aunt went through, and your emotions. Your aunt's adult children can probably give you a name and telephone number.
Best wishes to you and your family.
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Old 09-13-2010, 09:23 PM
 
9,948 posts, read 16,558,294 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christina0001 View Post
Marylee - it sounds like you have found comfort in the posts people have shared here. Most hospices provide follow-up services to the bereaved for 12 months. If you are interested, the hospice agency would surely welcome a call from you, to discuss how you are feeling. A social worker or nurse can help you make sense of what your aunt went through, and your emotions. Your aunt's adult children can probably give you a name and telephone number.
Best wishes to you and your family.

Thanks, that would be a good idea, however, the hospice couldn't provide any information otheer than "she was resting comfortably" even though my cousin indicated me as a person who could receive informaiton. Its all the HIPPA stuff.

but I appreciate your suggestion. Perhaps there is some way I could get counseling from the hospice, not so much personal details about my aunt but the process itself. My dh and I are in the process of changing our medical directives, and we would like more information. I'm the kind who is comforted with details, the more the better, even though the details themselves can be somewhat difficult to come to terms with. I'd rather know. some people are content with just a summary of the process and details.

I will take your advice into consideration.
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Old 09-13-2010, 09:31 PM
 
Location: SW Missouri
15,849 posts, read 31,188,712 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryleeII View Post
What about the morality of denying a living creature food and water, regardless of the condition? Many years ago I found a kitten, probably a newborn, who simply couldn't eat, he didn't have teeth. I got him a kitten bottle, he couldn't suck. I painstakingly dropped kitten formula drop by drop into his little mouth, because I felt it was my obilgation to help the living live. He's now a big tom cat, weighs about 15 pounds!

Of course, the kitten had has whole life ahead of him, my aunt was in the dying process!
I believe that age should not be a factor. A person who is 95 is just as "valid" and worthy of treatment as a five year old. It annoys me to no end when I hear about people who spend two hours trying to save the life of a 10 year old, but don't even try to save the life of someone who is 70 or so.

The key here, I think, is to make certain that people know your wishes before you get into that position. Have them written down and clearly defined and hopefully they won't "give up" on you.

20yrsinBranson
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Old 09-13-2010, 09:44 PM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
25,218 posts, read 30,079,605 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 20yrsinBranson View Post
I believe that age should not be a factor. A person who is 95 is just as "valid" and worthy of treatment as a five year old. It annoys me to no end when I hear about people who spend two hours trying to save the life of a 10 year old, but don't even try to save the life of someone who is 70 or so.

The key here, I think, is to make certain that people know your wishes before you get into that position. Have them written down and clearly defined and hopefully they won't "give up" on you.

20yrsinBranson

Since when do doctors not try to save the life of a 70 year old? I know of people in their 90s who have had surgery and sophisticated procedures, with the knowledge that there are risks that younger folks would not have. The question is whether anyone, regardless of age, could return to his previous level of functioning if the treatment succeeds. For the very fragile older person with multiple medical problems, that may not be possible. At that point, withholding extraordinary care becomes the better choice. Why put someone with dementia through a painful surgery with doubtful outcome, for example.

And yes, we should all make our wishes known well before the need arises to apply them.
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Old 09-13-2010, 10:39 PM
 
7,100 posts, read 24,945,313 times
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We need to remember what food is for. It's to provide energy, rebuild cellular factions like muscles, nerves, etc. If a person is dying, then the organs are shutting down and it's very unlikly that the digestive system is working. If it isn't, then the food just doesn't do any good. It doesn't even move through the intestinal tract. Blocked bowels cause additional pain. What then? Enemas for the dying? You have to look at the entire picture before you insist on food for those that are only a short way from the end.

There is also the very real danger that food particles, even liquids, will cause choking and, perhaps, even enter the lungs. They seldom are able to swallow well. It is quite possible if the breathing is not normal, you could easily make things worse by trying to feed the patient. Stomach tubes are the only way around this problem.

It's a sad and horrible decision to make for someone else. Be sure that your family knows your own personal wishes for the end of life care.
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Old 09-14-2010, 06:41 AM
 
3,763 posts, read 10,979,837 times
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Regarding age as a factor in medical care. Good doctors do not simply let age dictate what type of care their patients receive, but of course consider it (and the attendant risks) when making their decision.

Less than good doctors let AGE become the predominant decision maker.

My father had an ankle break that (after 2 years of failed surgeries) went septic leading to a below the knee amputation. He was extremely ill (i.e. symptomatic) for approx. 1 week prior to the emergency amputation.

At the hospital, the doctors (all staff doctors, with no knowledge of our family or my father) repeatedly told me I "couldn't let go" when I questioned why they weren't feeding my father. Why they weren't trying to prevent bedsores (which he got)...

He was 79 when he went into the hospital, and aged about 10 years during that process. He went 4 days without any food - because they witheld food before surgery - which ended up not occuring the first day due to other emergencies. Then after surgery he was so weak and on morphine he couldn't feed himself....

On the 5th day - we demanded feeding assistance (we'd been demanding it for days, but were ignored as being "unable to come to terms"). The doctor had the gaul to tell me "if your father wanted to live - he'd eat".

After 3 days of intrnasal feeding tube - my father ripped it out himself and started eating real food again.

When they shipped him out of this hospital (which none of us will ever go to ever again) to a stage 2 rehab center - he had bed sores, had lost about 30 lbs, but was his old self again - personality wise.

One of the doctors from the hospital later ran into him at the rehab center. You know what he said?? "Oh, no one thought you were going to live...".

So - yes, crappy dr's do in fact take one look at a patient and say "He's old and sick, don't bother with him".

Sorry - my respect for the medical community has taken a real hit while trying to help my parents through their various illnesses. While there are a lot of great dr's out there (and we've seen many OUTSTANDING doctors)... There are a lot of terrible ones, and it has to be acknowledged, or unsuspecting people will find themselves or their loved ones in terrible situations.

I wish we'd forced them to provide nutrition to my dad the next day after the surgery, but we trusted that they were acting in his best interest.

Hah!

By the way - its now 2.5 years later. My father (and mother) live with us. We sprung him from a nursing home/rehab center 8 months after the amputation. He's lived happily with us ever since. Maybe its not the quality of life he dreamed of (he's never regained the ability to walk - because the bedsores prevented any PT for over a year - and we're still battling one final bed sore to this day) - but he's happy, he jokes with us and my mother, he goes in the wheelchair to see the garden and play with the dogs.

Certainly preferable to them trying to kill him off with neglect after the surgery!!!
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Old 09-14-2010, 07:22 AM
 
9,948 posts, read 16,558,294 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Briolat21 View Post
Regarding age as a factor in medical care. Good doctors do not simply let age dictate what type of care their patients receive, but of course consider it (and the attendant risks) when making their decision.

Less than good doctors let AGE become the predominant decision maker.

My father had an ankle break that (after 2 years of failed surgeries) went septic leading to a below the knee amputation. He was extremely ill (i.e. symptomatic) for approx. 1 week prior to the emergency amputation.

At the hospital, the doctors (all staff doctors, with no knowledge of our family or my father) repeatedly told me I "couldn't let go" when I questioned why they weren't feeding my father. Why they weren't trying to prevent bedsores (which he got)...

He was 79 when he went into the hospital, and aged about 10 years during that process. He went 4 days without any food - because they witheld food before surgery - which ended up not occuring the first day due to other emergencies. Then after surgery he was so weak and on morphine he couldn't feed himself....

On the 5th day - we demanded feeding assistance (we'd been demanding it for days, but were ignored as being "unable to come to terms"). The doctor had the gaul to tell me "if your father wanted to live - he'd eat".

After 3 days of intrnasal feeding tube - my father ripped it out himself and started eating real food again.

When they shipped him out of this hospital (which none of us will ever go to ever again) to a stage 2 rehab center - he had bed sores, had lost about 30 lbs, but was his old self again - personality wise.

One of the doctors from the hospital later ran into him at the rehab center. You know what he said?? "Oh, no one thought you were going to live...".

So - yes, crappy dr's do in fact take one look at a patient and say "He's old and sick, don't bother with him".

Sorry - my respect for the medical community has taken a real hit while trying to help my parents through their various illnesses. While there are a lot of great dr's out there (and we've seen many OUTSTANDING doctors)... There are a lot of terrible ones, and it has to be acknowledged, or unsuspecting people will find themselves or their loved ones in terrible situations.

I wish we'd forced them to provide nutrition to my dad the next day after the surgery, but we trusted that they were acting in his best interest.

Hah!

By the way - its now 2.5 years later. My father (and mother) live with us. We sprung him from a nursing home/rehab center 8 months after the amputation. He's lived happily with us ever since. Maybe its not the quality of life he dreamed of (he's never regained the ability to walk - because the bedsores prevented any PT for over a year - and we're still battling one final bed sore to this day) - but he's happy, he jokes with us and my mother, he goes in the wheelchair to see the garden and play with the dogs.

Certainly preferable to them trying to kill him off with neglect after the surgery!!!

Your father's experience was horrible!

did he have a medical directive, or anything spelling out those were his wishes? Or did the hospital simply decide for him that it was his "time to go"?

I'm still debating in my mind how to word our dircetives. Although we don't want to be kept alive indefinitely on tubes, machines, etc, we certainly want all measures taken to help us if recovery is a possibility.

For my aunt, recovery was simply not a possibility. She would live as she was until she died, there was no hope for any recovery. But her situation was quite different from your father. she was 95, had a massive stroke, scans revealed 90% of her brain was simply gone. also, her poor body was gone, after 95 years, multiple heart attacks, 2 pacemakers, conjestive heart failure, she was in the death process, they just respected it rather than fought it.

But for someone 79 who had an orthopedic problem that could be resolved, well, that's a whole different situation.I sometimes think they give up on the elderly because Medicare doesn't pay out as well as private insurance.

I'm so glad your father has his life back, and thank you for making his remaining years good ones, instead of letting him languish in a nursing home
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Old 09-14-2010, 07:26 AM
 
9,948 posts, read 16,558,294 times
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Somehow all this talk about death has made me more reflective on my life. Not the life I wish/hope I will have someday, but the actual life I have now. If someone were to "pull the plug" on me right now, it would be from this life, not a dreamed of one that I never got around to living.

I read somewhere that life is something that happens while we're busy making other plans.

Take a good look at what you really, really have now. Its much more than you realize!
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Old 09-14-2010, 07:43 AM
 
Location: NJ
12,581 posts, read 22,542,583 times
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There is an advanced directive called 5 wishes that is better then what most states use. You're able to write out exactly what you want or don't want.

I know of someone who's 90 year old mother was dying; had not eaten in 3 weeks when they decided to give a feeding tube which only prolonged her suffering.
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Old 09-15-2010, 06:46 PM
 
3,763 posts, read 10,979,837 times
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Marylee II,

He does have directives, but that hospital was unaware of them, as neither my mother nor I said anything.

No - it seemed to be a simple case of he was old and looked VERY sick and weak.

When they kept telling me "he'd get better if he wanted to, that he'd "given up"" - I kept trying to explain that 1 week prior (before the infection had gone septic and he'd so quickly gotten seriously ill) he was yelling at the Detroit Tigers and having a bowl of SF ice cream. That he and mom went shopping and erranding together, and he read the cartoons to her... Not a man who was not enjoying life, or who'd given up.

And they kept patting me on the shoulder and saying "Its hard for a daughter to let go..."...

Needless to say - a HORRIBLE experience.

That said, we've had a lot of good doctors since then, and there were good doctors before then - but that experience taught me that you can not just blindly trust the doctors - as too many of them jump to the wrong conclusion.

Here dad is - 2.5 years later. Watching the Detroit Tigers, with my mom. He is more or less bed bound (has never recovered his physical strength from the ordeal) - but still reads his Chemistry journal, and still watches sports and follows interesting history and gardening specials. And he stil likes SF ice cream!!

Sorry to rant - I know Doctors work hard and most are great. But if you think your loved one is being treated poorly, (or being poorly treated) - don't just dismiss it. Get involved!!!

This has been a good thread - its a serious discussion to have, and I know my experience with my parents has certainly affected how I'll manage my medical affairs when I'm older, and what kind of directives I'll have.
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