I have been reading so many posts about people whose bodies are outliving their minds, and the awful consequences for them...

Started by


Margaret, would you like to reply to your post and give us the rest of the information and your question? Welcome to forum!
MargaretMcKen, one thing I had notice is that one would have a healthy physical body but the brain is broken, or the person's mind is healthy but the physical body is broken.

In a recent local newspaper article for example, this gentleman use to walk 3 miles a day and always came home. He and his wife were at Costco, when she notice that while walking into the store, he had disappeared. The husband did have dementia but he was doing ok. Frantic searches began, day after day. Eventually his body was found many miles from the store, cause of death the outside elements.

Another person comes to mind, former President Ronald Reagan. To look at him he looked healthy after he had left office, he was horse back riding, etc. One would never know by looking at him that he was dealing with Alzheimier's.
I agree that it's a terrible thing to be fairly well physically, but lack the mental capacity to care for yourself and have to be cared for like an infant. It's one reason that I am perplexed with the latest marketing advertisement by the American Alzheimers Association. Their slogan is that one day we will survive having Alzheimers. Well.....I'm not sure who told them that should be a goal, but, it sure shocked me. I thought curing or stopping the damage was the goal. People already live with Alzheimers for many years, but, they don't know it, because their brain is broken. I'm just not sure how that marketing plan ever saw the light of day.
Living to a ripe old age is overrated. Outliving one's spouse and having to live with painful infirmities, whether physical or mental doesn't appeal much. Right now I'm trying to focus on quality of life: cultivating loving relationships with my family and friends, taking care of my physical and mental health, and strengthening the spirit. Witnessing my mother's decline over the past few years has been a sobering lesson I don't want to repeat. It really made me look closer at my priorities. I still have a lot of work to do in that area.
I have been reading so many posts about people whose bodies are outliving their minds, and the awful consequences for them and for the people they have always loved. We have seen our own olds live to 100 and 95, and neither of them wanted to be there. Neither I or my husband want to be there either. Living to 90 is quite long enough. We heard a doctor say that few people would live longer than 85 without constant medication, and it seems that the important drugs are for blood pressure and cholorestol. I take them now, my husband doesn’t need them. If we were to reverse it when we have had enough (ie he takes my drugs instead of me), will this make it easy for us? Let God take us, instead of the doctors playing at being god? What do others think about this option?
I agree Margaret! After watching my MIL suffer with dementia for over 7 years, my husband and I both know we don't want to live that way. When our quality of life gets bad we will stop ALL medications except for pain relief. Either that or freeze our bodies until they find the fountain of youth:)
As for many others, this comment hits too close to home. Mother has long since "outlived" her sell-by date. She is not happy, we are not happy, she meddles and fusses and drives us all crazy. I've long since forgotten who she used to be---and I am afraid I will only remember the "batty" years.

Medicine is all about keeping the patient alive, as long as the patient wants to do extraordinary means to STAY alive. Actually, the fear of death is an enormous reason a lot of people hang on so tenaciously. She is kept alive by insulin, cholesterol meds, HBP meds, constant antibiotics....and all whatever else she has. I look at her life and say "absolutely not for me!!".

Mom's QOL of life is ok, I guess. She adores attention and she seems to get that from enough people that she is willing to live a very cloistered life.

Mom's mind is going, and that frustrates her. When she says "What is wrong with me?" b/c she can't remember something, I just say "You have 88 years of memories stored in your brain. Of course you'll forget things."

It's not fair, that's for sure. And I personally HATE that longevity is a big factor in the women in my family. I DO NOT want to live like mother is.

BOTH of my grandmothers were 100% independent until their deaths at ages 94 and 91, respectively. Mother has required 24/7 since she was 72.
I'm afraid I get more and more bitter and angry at sick old people who just stick around to make lives miserable for their families. Of course, this sounds mean, but I do feel that. I guess i am at the burn out point.

Sue888- I absolutely agree with you. I plan the same for myself.
I'm all for living a long HEALTHY, ACTIVE life. Once you need handfuls of meds, 24/7 care, having others give up their lives to care for you.. it is too much and I don't want my parents to hang around in this state for years.. nor do I want to live in that condition for years either.

My parents have dementia and I can't imagine anyone wanting to live years and years with a broken brain. Dementia has to cause suffering for the dementia person but also untold suffering for the poor person left to care for them.

One of my clueless relatives (my moms younger sister) is always harping on my parents health and how they should eat this and that (organic foods), stay away from sugar, exercise (she even asked the memory care if they had an exercise room or if they teach yoga and Pilates there.. lol ). She stated once.. maybe they will live into their 100's if they take care of themselves.. wow.... what about me? I would be long gone by then if the stress and expense of having dementia parents continues for that many years.

I feel guilty having thoughts that I don't want them to live for years in the state they are in.. but I also know I would miss them in my life because I do love them. I know if I had dementia or a terminal illness or a severely low quality of life I would do the same as you Sue.. stop all but the meds to control pain (if I had the means and ability to do so).
My grandmother lived to be 98. Her daughter, my dear Aunt Ethel, said repeatedly that she hoped she didn't live that long. She took no medications and did nothing special about her diet, except watch her weight. She lived 3 months past 100. Unlike her mother, she was lucid all that time, and seemed reasonably content. She didn't want to live that long, but she really had no choice. And she made the best of it.

Maragret, no, I don't think that stopping your blood pressure med would cause your death. The bigger risk is you'd have a stroke, and not only continue living but be disabled as well. And I doubt that taking your drugs would hasten your husband's death.

A very insightful and thought-provoking book on this subject is "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End" by Atul Gawande.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support