Confusion about treatment

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My grandmother is in compassionate care. I’m her granddaughter and I don’t understand her treatment. She’s on morphine (due to a fractured femur sustained during a mild heart attack), and not eating much, so of course she will eventually pass away. Maybe if she was off morphine, she would eat? But if she can heal from the fracture, shouldn’t she receive sustenance some other way? I feel like she is being drugged and allowed to die. Is this normal? Before her fall, she did seem to be ‘shutting down’…being found kneeling with her eyes closed, and keeping her eyes closed a lot. I’m sorry I don’t have all the details. Does anyone have an idea of what may be going on, or what the right questions would be to ask her doctors and my mother? Thank you.

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confused15 - we understand your confusion and FreqFlyer is exactly right.

Compassionate care or palliative care, as it's called, is a means to provide comfort while the body goes about the process of passing away. Sometimes, this can take quite a long period of time - it doesn't happen overnight in some cases. It is not a way to starve someone to death or make them die of dehydration - food and liquids are only withheld when the body can no longer process them. During the process of passing away, organs begin to shut down, and forcing them to process food and liquid is actually harmful and more painful to the person than just letting the organs shut down. Food and liquid are only withheld when it becomes apparent that the person can no longer process them - if their body is not actively shutting down, then tube feeding & liquids will be administered to keep them nutritionally stable. There simply comes a time when the body no longer needs (or wants) food and liquid.

In an elderly person, a broken bone can be very, very devastating to their body and can kick off a whole host of other problems that it wouldn't in a younger person. As a younger person, you can heal relatively quickly. Your grandmother has had a heart attack and a broken bone, which are going to be very difficult things for her to overcome.

I hope you understand, we're not trying to be harsh or crude here, by discussing these things, but when you are dealing with someone who is at the end stage of their life, it is better to deal in facts, so you know what you are facing. I do hope things go as smoothly as possible for your family and your grandmother.
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Confused15, one thing to remember, as we start to age, and when we are up in our later years it takes a lot longer to heal. A broken/fractured bone would take a couple of months to mend, then months of rehab. Rehab may or may not help.

Maybe there are other medical issues going on and it has become too painful for your Grandmother to eat or even drink what we would consider a normal amount. When one isn't active, they aren't very hungry. And sometimes the food could get into the lungs causing problems.

The morphine is given to help maintain the pain. We don't want our loved ones to be suffering. So the medical community does the best they can to keep her comfortable.

Ask your Mom the same questions you are asking here. Whether your Mom will answer them all, it is up to her.
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