Honest discussion about WHY so many medical procedures, drugs and surgeries for purpose of keeping people living longer then get dementia.

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I have been having thoughts about this subject since my mother is in the beginning stages of dementia. For example she was not eating properly so she had gotten down to 77 pounds. With family help she has gained back to 81 pounds. But a more serious problem is that of her not drinking enough water without constant reminding.

So I began to think about her doctor wanting her to have a Colonoscopy test so they could see if she has cancer. However she and me and my brother all agree that she is in no condition to have such an instrusive test. She already had a bout with dehyration that put her in the ER. Prepping for the Colonoscopy would severely dehydrate her. There are dangers of puncturing her colon. As of now she is not in any pain. In talking with the gastroenterologist, he said that if she is not willing to go through chemo or radiations etc. there is no point in even having the test done. She does not want any of those treatments. Why put her through all of that?

The mother of a friend of mine did opt to go through all of those tests and treatments and now she can barely communicate or take care of herself. I do not want my mother to go through all of that to have her be unable to enjoy life until her death.

I have read comments on this site about people who were given drugs to halt alzheimers and ended up with depression and suicidal thoughts. What is the purpose of that?

Both my mom and myself have advance health care directives to not keep us alive if there is no chance of us living on our own naturally.

Personally I just do not see the point in it all just to keep a body alive in a bed.

I would like for others out there to give your opinions about this. Doctors are constantly pushing prescriptions that have side effects sometimes worse than the original complaint. And surgeries that leave a person worse off than if they were just left as they were. Elderly people being put through chemotherapy and end up worse than when they started.

Please understand that I in no way approve of euthanasia. That is not what I am talking about. I am referring to prolonging life with medical procedures and drugs when a person would be more comfortable living life until natural causes bring death.

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Top Answer
I truly understand where you are coming from. I have just started this past summer in caring for my 84-yr old father who has the beginning of dementia. He also has high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. He was on about 16 different medications when I started now he is down to 2 meds, one for blood pressure and 1 baby aspirin per day.

After doing tons of research into the side effects of all his medications I promptly had a discussion with his doctor. He was taking two meds for his stomach because 5 meds were causing him to have acid reflux. Other meds were causing agitation and mental confusion... ??? I thought he had dementia. Another med supposed to help him sleep was causing him to have hallucinations!

Now he is on a vitamin smoothie designed for seniors, a supplement for memory, one for his prostate and red yeast rice for the cholesterol. I also have him on a low salt diet for the blood pressure and his pressure is the lowest it has been in 5 yrs.

Like you I don't believe in making things worse with operations that will cause more pain than good. Ten years ago he has an operation for a hernia... he still has it... the same one??!! What is wrong with this picture?

All the symptoms he was demonstrating were mostly due to meds, yes, the dementia is there but it is far less advanced than we originally thought at the beginning of the summer. Now he is just complaining because I can't be there 24/7 but I do have a home and a disabled son to care for as well as my dad.

I feel the same way that you do about doing certain procedures on a person who has certain diagnoses or is too old for the procedures to serve any useful purpose. I knew a woman whose mother was in the later stages of Alz. Still each month she took a pill for osteoporosis and she went in for a colonoscopy to see if she might have cancer. Others tried to talk her out of doing these things, because they served no purpose, given the situation her mother faced. If the colonoscopy showed cancer, what would they do? Surgery, chemotherapy? And if she didn't take her osteoporosis medication, how much weight would her bones lose in the time she had remaining?

I have had my own thoughts about what I want if my health should go south. Would I want something like a heart transplant at my age? Then I ask myself why I would want that after watching my parents decline with age. I do not want the misery that I've seen. What I would really like is to live with good enough health until the moment I die, then poof! I'm gone just like that. That would be a blessing. I hope it waits for a few years, because I still have some living I want to do.

My personal thoughts for the medical profession is that they have the responsibility to make sure the lives they prolong are quality lives, and not just unhappy people lying in bed all day waiting for God. I don't know how this could be accomplished without violating medical ethics. I guess it would require some hard choices on the part of the doctors, patients, and family members. No one wants to make these choices until the end is close and inevitable.
The prayer I have for my mom and also for myself is that God would take us in our sleep before we lose our minds to such a degree that we don't even know who our loved ones are anymore.

I too in years past took acid reflux meds and that caused me to have osteoporosis. And no I will NOT take meds for that. I stopped the acid reflux meds and take probiotics which work WAY better than drugs.
Yes yes, I got the doctor to agree with me to let me give my dad probiotics instead of that horrid medicine.. guess what no more reflux! and no need for stool softeners or a few other pills on that line. I think I eliminated 6 pills just by saying no to the reflux meds and adding probiotics.. I am not a person to just take it lying down... I need a really good reason to pump drugs into someone especially when they cause more symptoms than he had initially!
This article raises serious considerations when longevity does not allow quality of life. I do not believe medication and medical procedures should be utilized if it diminshes the quality of life significantly for an individual. I feel it is better to let a person live and die with dignity then live an empty shell of who they were.
Both my mom's siblings immediately upon getting diagnosis told us to get her on meds right away. Mom is well into stage 5 Alzheimer's and has front lobe dementia. Instead of meds we have modified her diet and have her on vitamins which has vastly improved her physical health. Putting her on meds does not make any sense to me...it does not stop what is happening, and at this stage really does not help what has already happened...I just don't understand why anyone would want to make this horrible disease last longer!! I could see it if it was early stage when they have good reasoning skills and such still in tact ...that makes sense...but not in the later stages...I actually think it is kinda cruel considering the circumstance's. Also, as stated previously, more often then not a lot of the meds actually make things worse in many regards. This is just my opinion, but it would make me really sad to see her having side effects from a medicine that really is only making her live 6 months to a year longer with this horrible disease.
Going through the same thing with my Mom who is 85,now in AL bc she needs a foley catheter. She is losing weight, not drinking on her own, her anemia is getting worse. She gets so much anxiety with medical procedures, yet the drs want to do a colonoscopy and bone marrow biopsy. Thinking and praying hard bc I do not feel this is good for my Mom. I think it would cause her so much anxiety when she is already in so much turmoil fr her life being upside down. I pray the drs just go with our wishes to give her blood and check her more often. I just want her to have peace while she is with us.
When I went with my mother to the gynecologist the other day, they mentioned doing a pap smear and doing a mammogram. I told them I didn't think it was necessary for a woman of 86. What would we do if she did have breast cancer? And she had a hysterectomy many years ago, so no cervix to sample. I have to say that I am glad she does not have her female organs. It takes away three worries about cancer.

Sometimes I think doctors can get wacky when it comes to testing. If I had not been there, my mother would have probably said okay to tests, which would have only cost Medicare more money and been of no benefit. I say no to any procedure that seems pointless to me. Medicare might pay for it all, so it looks free, but someone (taxpayers) is having to pay for unnecessary things.
I think ultimately it is because we as a society are very uncomfortable with the inevitability of death. Our great and modern technology shall be used to beat it back! And yet, in the end suffering and loss still happen. Sometimes miracles really do happen and real health is restored but I think that happens a lot less often than they make out and I wish doctors had an obligation to share the pros and cons of non-treatment along with the many treatments they propose.
I feel for you completely and definately understand your dilemma. My mom had a bad fall which caused severe dementia quickly (within 2 weeks). She already had all the signs so this just hastened it. I hated hated hated seeing her like she was. After a month in a nursing home trying to recover (she never did), she started bleeding vaginally which could have been a sign of cancer and to this day I don't know for sure. Doc wanted to send her to the hospital for tests. I couldn't imagine what for! Like someone above said, what would I have done had I found out it was cancer? Nothing to be honest as I wanted my poor 87 year old mom out of misery. I think the docs have to offer but we don't have to take their advice all the time. I sincerely wish you peace and love. It's such a beautiful thing you are doing and when it's all said and done, believe me, you will be happy knowing you took care of your loved one. Right now that may be hard to see but afterwards, it's what you fall back on when your loved one is gone. Good luck

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