What do you do when an elder parent decides that they no longer want to live?
My father is an unusual person. He would have probably been diagnosed with Asperger's if such a diagnosis existed when he was younger. As he has aged, his separation has deepened. He communicates almost nothing, so one has to be psychic to try to figure out what he wants. It has been made worse by his loss of hearing.
He has never been very happy and had no social contact with anyone other than my mother. He has been "doomed" since he was around 50, when he was diagnosed with high bp. In recent years, the doom has worsened. He is completely agoraphobic at 91 now and it is a battle to get him to a doctor. He doesn't want anyone coming in. Any trip to the doctor or visitor in the house stresses him so utterly it is hard to describe.
He wants to die -- that is apparent. He throws his food away and does nothing to help himself. Two weeks ago we went to the doctor. It was a day that was so terrible that I don't even like to remember it. He goes into melt-down and becomes paralyzed and helpless. Since that trip, he acts like each day is his last. He eats almost nothing. He throws it out when he thinks we're not looking. His legs have swollen, but he refuses to elevate them. We need to get a doctor and health services to come into the house, but going through this with him is a nightmare.
Tonight he apologized to me for being such a problem. I wasn't my normal sweet self and told him to stop it. I told him the grim reaper wasn't anywhere near, so he needed to get back to trying to live.
I pondered the right to die today.I have always thought people had the right to die with dignity if there was no hope. However, I also realized that the others around the person had a right not to be subjected to it. It is torture watching someone slowly kill himself by not eating or neglecting himself in other ways. Plus there are legal ramifications, I'm sure. We can't just let him slowly kill himself. I'm sure to do so would be elder neglect.
I know many people here have dealt with this type thing when their parent is ill. Putting my father in a nursing home would probably bring his death quickly, so I do not want to do that. I don't know what my mother would do without him.
Does anyone have any advice on how to handle this without a NH? I never thought I would be dealing with the right to die issue. There are so many moral and legal considerations. Besides it is just upsetting, depressing, and sad to deal with everyday. I am so angry at him for being so selfish as not to consider what he is doing to others. But then, the autism has always robbed him of the capacity to know his effect on others.
As I wrote this, the answer dawned on me. The choice to him will have to be either eat or go to the NH. He may have the right to die, but we have the right not to watch him do it. Right?