Is it the right decision to remove ventilator, stop nutrients, stop daily meds, and wait for him to pass?

Asked by

Hi, my grandfather has a number of conditions, he is 86 and has parkinsins, diabetes and also has congestive heart failure. A few weeks ago he was in the hospital, they thought he was going to pass, he was unresponsive for several days and had pneumonia but he ended up pulling through. He finally went home with oxygen and had an aid that helped him with exercise and helped his wife care for him. A few days later he was doing bad again so they had him rushed to the hospital. He was in the ICU and they hooked him up to a respirator cus he had a hard time breathing. A few days later they took him off the respirator to see how he does. After 12 hours they had to put him back on the respirator because he was starting to tire out. The doctors then said his chances are very slim, and even if he does beat the odds and pull through, his quality of life will be bad due to the fact that he keeps having respiratory problems. Plus they said his kidneys are starting to shut down.

So last Friday they asked him if he wants them to turn off the ventilator and leave it off and he blinked his eyes to say “yes”. So Saturday morning they turned it off and only gave him an oxygen mask. His heart rate was in the 100 range, oxygen was in the 90-97 range most of the day. He was expected to pass within 12 hours of them taking him off the ventilator. But he did not pass. His heart rate dropped to the 60’s range that night. Sunday they moved him out of the ICU and into a room. They shut the machine off that measures heartrate and oxygen because they said the numbers no longer matter at this point and did not want the family to focus on the numbers. They also stopped giving him his daily meds, including his insulin so he would stop the fight.

Well today is Tuesday morning and he is still the same. He wakes up every few hours and seems alert, and responds to yes and no questions still by blinking his eyes. He often says he is in pain, due to being thirsty, and all we can do is give him a sponge with water to put in his mouth. They are however giving him pain meds to make him comfortable. But he gets thirsty an awful lot and I hardly doubt the sponge with water is quenching his thirst. He is not on an IV ether so he has no fluids going into him. They said his urine will get dark and come to a near stand still eventually, but it still has not happened. I was just wondering if we are doing the right thing because if he is fighting this hard without any meds or fluids or respiratory support, I don’t see why they said recovery was not possible. So at this stage should we still stick with the plan and continue to wait for him to pass, or should we consider putting him back on his meds and giving him fluids?

Answers 1 to 4 of 4
Does you grandfather have a medical power of attorney? If so, what is it that he requests? If he is capable of making his own medical decisions and choses no life support, I recommend honoring HIS wishes. As difficult as it may be to watch I would go by what HE wants.
Top Answer
I am not sure if he has a medical power of atturney, but I believe it may be my grandmother since she has been making all the decisions. I understand she would have to be the one to tell them what to do or not to do.

It just seems bad cus he seems to be in so much pain, since he always wants water. You say to him blink your eyes if ur in pain and he blinks them 4 or 5 times. We list every posable pain and tell him to blink if what we say is the source of the pain and he never blinks till you ask him to blink if he wants water.

I guess I am just confused because his wishes were to be taken off the machine, yet its been nearly 3 days and he is still alive and allert. They also keep giving him pain meds (in his arm) and keep saying that the meds should make him more relaxed, and should make it easier for him to fall asleep and pass away. He always falls asleep but still has not passed away. They said that he appears to be fighting it.

So if he is fighting it, wouldnt that mean that maybe he changed his mind?
Bless your heart. You love your grandfather enough to let him go. He has lived a long life. He has alot of medical problems. Stay with him how ever many days it takes. Talk to him about happy memories. Tell him how much you love him. Hold his hand. Give him permission to die. Keep him comfortable as much as possible. Dying takes time. Sometimes it takes many days for the body to shut down. The best gift I could give my father with his Alzheimer's was to let him die when the time came and to be with him as he passed. This is a difficult time for you and maybe the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. I believe that death is a part of life and that we have to love people enough to let them die. Know that you are doing the "right" thing and that you are not alone. You and your loved ones are in the thoughts and prayers of many.
Hi, I understand what you are saying, Just wanted to make sure we were not doing the wrong thing here. Thanks for the reply.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

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