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I am not saying anything new that hasn't been discussed before. It's just a scream into the void. This is not right. It's not.

I share your frustration. My spouse and I often discuss the state of our parents and we wonder what value these final years are to them. All of them have expressed the wish to go to sleep and not wake up. I really believe they are just tired of living at this point (95, 89, 85).
That said, these choices are so individual, it is impossible to decide what is "right" for any individual. It's up to the individual and their loved ones to try to navigate and make the appropriate choices. I guess I'm fortunate my parents have been clear about their wishes, but it still leave a lot of grey area I have to navigate.
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My step father is 90, he has been on dialysis for 6 years, has bladder cancer, heart issues, high blood pressure, is in diapers....and totally deaf. The dialysis is keeping him alive...I guess...he has no quality of life. The doctors keep him alive because they make a fortune on him...last year alone 2.2 million dollars was paid by Medicare. This is a travesty!
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I agree. My mom still has quality of life at 91, but my aunt who passed away recently had declined into what was a miserable existence. Hard to believe when I think back to her younger years. she was sharp, bright, and very quick witted. I didn't know her passing would hit me so hard
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Let me add, most of those twelve years were grand and she was in good health and happy.

So whose to say. Every case is different.
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My mom had triple bypass surgery at eighty. The doctor told her she would have ten more years. She actually had twelve. Died at 92.

When she became unconscious and had to be rushed to the hospital the week she died they did a cat scan. They had scheduled another cause the first one was inconclusive. The doctor talked me out of the second one. His words exactly "they would think I was insane if I sent a woman in your mom's condition upstairs for a cat scan." He wasn't exactly delicate in his delivery. It was ultimately my decision to withdraw treatment (with no input from siblings, I might add) I feel it was the right decision but I'll never know. Even if my mom had ever regained consciousness I don't think she would have lived much longer. At least I like to tell myself this.
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Omg! Segoline! I have been thinking the same thing! It is so unkind. My 95 yo mom is physically good, but her cognition is slowly in decline. She really believes that she is good to go; and physically she is. There is no "good way" to end such a long life.
I do what I can and pray for courage to start becoming an activist for this cause. Sounds like you would find purpose in it as well.

I send a warm and loving hug to you, my new friend!
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You may not see the point of life for a person with advanced dementia; but then you may not see the point of life for a child with multiple sensory impairments or physical disabilities, or a baby so premature that its risk of serious disability is almost a certainty, either. But you can assume that they do, and their families do.

You can make decisions for yourself and for anyone who's authorised you, and you can encourage others to think through their wishes and organise their instructions. But that's your lot. When it comes to 'not right' for anyone else, it's not for you to say.
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Many times, Segoline, it is the family of the elder that are insisting the doctors do everything to prolong life. The family is afraid of not providing their loved ones every opportunity to live. It’s often not the doctors decision. They acquiesce to the wishes of family. There are no “death panels”. If it’s hopeless then a physician should have the “Come to Jesus” talk with the family to help them understand how seriously ill their loved one is. After that, it’s up to the family if the person is not of sound mind and didn’t write down their wishes. If they say “treat her anyway”, a physician can notify the hospital ethics committee that he feels treatment is futile who will then get involved to mediate. Most doctors will acquiesce to the family for another attempt to save the life of the patient.

Who are we to judge that? There is no expiration date stamped on our foot. Every individual is different.

Please don’t blame doctors exclusively. It’s a combination of issues not exclusive to providers.

Your mom is in hospice now at 93. She is dying. You, she , or your family tried everything before making the hospice decision. You yourself had a rough time deciding to allow hospice to give your mother morphine; the last I read was you were giving hydrocodone by mouth and holding off on morphine administration. You had a rough time opting for hospice didn’t you...it took you some time to realize your mother was terminally ill.

Which is perfectly normal. Why? Because you love your mother and don’t want to lose her. Medical science has progressed, offering better treatment to prolong life. I don’t see it as “hell”. Of course you would prolong her life given the chance & if you thought it provided a better quality of life for your mother.

There are perfectly lucid 93 year old people. Are you suggesting we should cut off life sustaining treatment at a certain age?

This issue is not so cut and dry. Would you not have a heart bypass surgery at age 70 or 80 if the surgery will prolong your life well into your 80’s or 90’s. ?

My mother had a CABG when she was 84. When the surgeon made his rounds the next day he joked that my mother would now live another 10 years at least ....at that moment all 3 of us chuckled knowing 10 years would she would be 95. What were the odds here? All of us realized this & chuckled some more.

So should we have said “nope mom you are too old to have this surgery”. This may happen in a country with socialized medicine. Why? The government are reluctant to pay for such an expensive surgery. Many folks in the UK pay out of pocket for private insurance as they don’t want to have to wait for elective surgeries and are assured they have coverage - not wanting to be on the rolls of socialized medicine that actually then takes over your medical decisions for you.

Great statement for discussion, however.

Ideally these decisions should be made by the person themselves in the form of Advanced Directives and end of life planning so it is clear and in writing what the patient wants. Often it’s not in writing as an AD thus “medical science” at the urging of the family is told to do that procedure, draw that lab, treat that sepsis. The doctor can’t say no if the person is NOT a documented DNR, MOLST (in Maryland), or Advanced Directives is in place. That’s why it’s very important to make your wishes known on paper. Did your mother have a AD or DNR properly noted by a notary and placed in her chart? I wouldn’t blame you nor the other children of elderly people if not because it is a difficult conversation to have. We are only human after all.
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At my last physical with my primary doctor, she wanted me to have this x-ray, that x-ray, colonoscopy, yada, yada, yada.

At 72, and having survived cancer once already and saw the quality of my life take a spiral down during treatment to a point where I wanted to give up, I decided enough already. Threw those toxic pills into the bin and never looked back. That was ten years ago. If cancer decides to make a return visit, just let me go peacefully.
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Amen

my whole family is very long lived....but...the life Is saw first hand after 90 was not worth it!

i tell everyone who might ever be around me, if I have a heart attack..LEAVE ME ALONE
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There is a book called Extreme Measures by Dr Jessica Zitter ie hospice dr - its really a good read.
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Okiegranny - thanks for suggesting the book. It's now on my to-read list.
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Read the book by Nortin Hadler, MD. It's called Rethinking Aging: Growing Old and Living Well in an Overtreated Society.
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Now here I agree with you. But I think there are at least two parts to this problem. One is that people are being kept alive long after their quality of life is gone. I'm thinking of someone who has had a debilitating stroke or has dementia. Yes, we should stop intervening medically to prolong needless suffering.

The other part, though, is that many ailments are treatable now so that the person has a decent quality of life apart from the physical limitations. They do fine as long as they have someone else to do the physical work of living for them. The "debilitated" stage of older age is lasting much longer for people, and that's a problem for all of society. Society at least here in the US has devoted woefully inadequate resources to providing for the needs of these individuals. Family members are roped in because there often is no other choice. As I've said elsewhere (and loudly, and often) I think that situation is far from ideal.
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Agree. I hate it with you. The good Lord never had this in mind for us.
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AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.....
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Sunny, we are talking about prolonging life for individuals who have lost their quality of life. And their minds. About doctors who order and perform unnecessary tests and treatments—like the dentist who recommended out a 96 year old woman’s teeth & making her dentures at a cost of $6000! About putting painful feeding tubes in patients with advanced dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

My husband’s grandfather had dementia. The last 3-4 years of his life, he was confined to a bed, had stopped speaking and the family visited him in the nursing home once or twice a year. Almost in a vegetative state. And the last 2 years of his life, he was hospitalized with pneumonia numerous times for 2-3 weeks, they kept prolonging his life and for what? All so he could go back to the nursing home in his vegetative state.
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I agree with most of the comments on here. Thankful that this online forum to voice opinions/give guidance. I was screaming myself before I found this caring site.
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People don't understand that doctors will do as much as patients will allow/offer them in their waning years.

It's not the drs. They are fully aware they're keeping people alive long past their sell by dates.

My SIL is a gastroenterologist and refuses to do "routine" colonoscopies on people over 70-75. If there is a obvious problem, then yes, but after my last colonoscopy he said "You never need another one." The risks far outweigh the benefits.

MANY of his patients are geriatric--and he does what he can for them, of course, but he'd be the first to say that people are CHOOSING to live longer through medicines and procedures that keep them ALIVE--but at what cost?
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I am confused about the topic...how is medical science extending the elderly into this hell? The fact is people are living longer, therefore so are their minds. I believe medical science, being doctors I’m assuming, is trying to make the elderly comfortable in this stage of life. Of course they prescribe blood pressure meds and pain meds...they are human beings living their life. If you have an elder lovesd one with dementia it doesn’t mean they have to have colonoscopies or mammograms, these are screenings for people who may do something about the outcome if well enough. If your 86 why keep doing this?? Dementia is a terminal disease eventually, so let our loved ones live the rest of their lives not being in a doctors office but enjoying what time they have left.
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Ditto, I'm screaming right now.
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I agree , I refuse to take my mom back and forth to the doctors for their ridiculous treatments. Mammagrams , colonoscopies , test for this and that . What the hell.... she is 86 with dementia and I refuse to prolong her suffering for the sake of the medical community making money off her. She will go to the doctor when she is sick or in pain....the end
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I agree; however, it's not just medical science that's extending elderly persons' lives, but the laws that are forcing medical science to continue treatment and not allow those who want to end treatment to die with dignity.

States are finally approving laws that allow death with dignity.
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Amen, Segoline, for bringing this up! I join you in the scream. I believe it is wrong to prolong life at the expense of quality of life not only for the patients but also their caregivers. I am fiercely independent and would never allow my choices to impose upon others longterm. A good friend of mine says: Get busy living or get busy dying. That's a good philosophy.
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I wonder if some of what causes it is that so many conditions remain unsolved. It seems it is more tolerated in the medical field that elderly live longer with limited capacity. They don't even discuss cures. As caregivers, we cannot refuse treatment that might offer relief. As patients, I think we fear the result of not taking certain meds doesn't mean we die earlier but instead means we live with side effects of things like stroke earlier in life. It's a tough spot. I'll join the screaming.
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My dad has been in a memory care facility for 2 years. There are people in his facility that have been rattling around, locked up in that building for over 10 years. They are sad, lost, confused, etc. No way to live. We weren't meant to live 10%-20% of our lives on the back-end in such a state. Really sad.
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I guess there are examples of people taking extreme measures to extend life but I think for most of us it would be difficult to point to any one medical intervention as the reason a person is living beyond their quality years. Should my mother have skipped her by pass surgery in 1977? Should we have just shook our heads and let fate decide when she had sepsis in the 1980's? Maybe she shouldn't have been taking BP meds and an aspirin a day all those years. I guess it gets a little easier to say she certainly didn't need the statins and aggrenox when she began having TIA's in her 80's, but she was still active and reasonably healthy and I know that my major fear there was a debilitating stroke, not an earlier grave. My mom was taken off almost all her meds when it became clear she wasn't going to get better 5 years before she died. Despite my belief that she would stroke out within week she just kept on living anyway.
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Turns out that, for many of us, the promise of our "Golden Years" was a big, fat lie. In reality, that "wonderful time" means either being cognitively dysfunctional, while in extreme physical distress ... or ... taking care of, possibly, a series of loved ones in such conditions ... and/or ... both.
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I think it is a disgrace that modern medicine keeps people alive but only to the point that they are existing, not living. If it can bring you back to a point where you have a quality of life then fine, but to just keep a body alive seems like torture to me.
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Well worth screaming!
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