My mom has stage 4 non operable NSCLC and was given 6 months. She has been on hospice for 4 months and recently developed pneumonia. I am worried that this will kill her. Am I right or should I not worry?
The hard part is over.
I'm matching you with one of our specialists who will be calling you in the next few minutes.
Please know that you are doing the best you can. That’s all you can do, plus pray for a peaceful death for your mother.
I am sure that both of you are going through mental anguish as this is an unsettling time.
We were giving him pain meds and Ativan for comfort measures, and he had been conscious, speaking and taking in small amounts of food and fluids the previous day, so not "drugged out" or anything, it was only that morning when things had taken a turn for the worse.
I am of the camp that if the patient is on Hospice, dying of a disease beyond treatment options, and an infection comes along, it is up to the patient to decide whether or not to treat, but if they are so far along in their disease and unable to make those decisions and that you are now in the position of POA and have hopefully had those tough conversations about how they would have like to be treated, then it is only fair to let them succumb to the kindest and most humane way out, and that is to not treat, to give them dignity and respect, assure that they are comfortable as possible and to let them go with God.
IMO, waiting until the primary disease reaches a place of severe symptoms and pain is not my idea of kind nor gentle. To me, an infection is the bodies way of saying (in these cases) that their poor old bodies have had enough, and they just cannot fight these symptoms off any longer, so the loving Caregiver in me says to let them go. Now in the situation where the patient desires antibiotics, then that is in their right to choose that, and then my power is not yet in effect, but again, hopefully you have had these difficult conversations and the reason why the patient has given you this power in the first place, to make these difficult decisions.
It isn't necessarily right to force a parent through agonizing treatment, to only have to go through it over and over again, and very often (my gut feeling), the patient cannot fight off an infection even with treatment as they are just too weak, its just their time to go. We aren't meant to last forever, and saying goodbye is the hardest thing.
Difficult times for you and your family, be easy on yourselves, there is no one answer.
On a personal note, I miss the white rat.
The morphine slowed the painful breathing. Also gave them comfort, as they weren't gasping for air.
Neither died on a "timeline'. In both cases we were just fortunate to all be there with them. Often they wait until they are alone and quietly pass. Dying is a personal, spiritual matter. They are NOT alone...I believe people come to get them. When my Gma died, she was talking to the 'angels' all day--and not us.
Peace to you. I know this is hard.
I really don't think Mom should be reminded she is dying. She excepted Hospice so she must know what that means. Why do you need to worry where ur on a timeline. Your Mom will go when her body starts to shut down and she is ready. Make sure she sees or talks to everyone she needs to. And don't beat yourself up if you are not there when she goes. They tend to go when no ones around. Just love her while you can.
Pneumonia is a very common way that people do die when they are disabled and near the end of life. They may aspirate food or fluid into the lung causing aspiration pneumonia; they can actually get pneumonia from a lack of movement and activity and full ventilation of lungs, and then the more common bacterial or viral reasons for a pneumonia. Pneumonia in the "old days" used to be called "The old person's friend" because it was often the way an elder was ushered out of this life when they were very ill and failing.
I think, if you are not read, and not aware that Mom is on hospice because indeed her death is "expected" and is imminent in the next months, then things are not being fully discussed with you.
Please do use your search engine to look up "hospice care" and what this is meant to help with, what can be expected. I am so sorry for your grief and pain at this time. I hope your Mom is being kept comfortable and medicated so she is below a level of pain and dreaming. You have posted under Cancer, End of Life, and Hospice. So I think you do understand somewhat what is coming. I hope you have family support and that you are all together in making your Mom's last time as comfortable and peaceful for her as it can be. The hospice team can tell you the signs to watch for that indicate that death is drawing more near. Talk with them. They are there to guide and help you.
Hugs and support out to you at this hard time.
A very helpful article from nextavenue.org, "Why infection might be a good way to die":
A Peaceful Death
This concept is not new. The saying, "pneumonia is the old man's friend" has existed for years. Left untreated, a person with pneumonia will slowly lose consciousness and pass away in his or her sleep. For some people, fighting until the end, dying in a medical intensive care unit from a third episode of pneumonia with a resistant organism may be what they want. For many others, a dignified and peaceful death is what they would like to plan for.
Any decisions you make in the coming days will be the right ones! I wish you peace in the coming days!
What you're going through is enough to worry anyone: there can be incredibly difficult decisions to make. How is your mother feeling in herself? Is she able to talk to you? If she is comfortable, not in pain, and not frightened, then it is best to be guided by what she feels is best for her and try not to influence her choices.
I am so sorry for the pain you are enduring right now, my friend. Loss is such a hard thing to bear, I know. Sending you a big hug and a prayer for strength during this difficult time.