My Grandad is 87 and has had a diagnosis of dementia for a number of years now. He has started to decline rapidly and has now reached the point where he has talked about different ways he could kill himself. He is very detailed in how he would do it and has a number of ways in mind. He has also, however, explained that it wouldn't be fair to whoever found him, or if he jumped in front of a train or bus the driver might get in trouble and they would have to live with killing him so it wouldn't be fair.

He gets very emotional and is fully aware that his brain is declining and that he will need more and more care which is the thing that makes me think his threats are much more than that and he is trying to prepare us.

He doesn't know who we are anymore but he does know he sees us often so we must be significant.

I don't know what to say to him, how to respond and I know that the last thing he would ever have wanted is to forget us or need care and not be able to perform basic functions like going to the toilet unaided.

Any advice would be very greatfully received.

As I approach my "golden years," having observed family members in various states of disability and care needs, I have started to change my mind about assisted suicide--for myself, that is. Perhaps your grandfather would be interested in information about that, if it's legal where you live.
My heart goes out to you, and to him. It sounds like he's a very thoughtful, empathetic soul, who doesn't want to hurt or even discomfort others. Our USA society doesn't seem to have great provisions for old disabled folks who don't want to live as a burden on someone else.
It's hard to know what to say to him. I wish my family members would be receptive to such a discussion with me, but I don't have dementia (I think); so your situation with him is different. I think you just listen, ask questions so you understand his feelings about it, and answer his questions directly and honestly.
Many people would--wrongly, I think--refuse to talk about this, although the dementia may be a big factor in how you want to approach it. Personally, I think it's cruel to tell someone his concerns don't matter, that everything will be fine, etc., when he clearly knows that everything won't be fine. Perhaps asking him to explain his reasoning will bring to light situations that could be changed or explained to provide him with reassurance that the future won't be as bleak as he fears.
He and you are blessed that you have inherited his empathy, love and understanding. You will do and say the right things out of your love for him.
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Reply to Agingmyself

My dad is 83 yo with dementia living in an ALF. We lost our mom to Alzheimer’s last year- very hard on everyone especially our dad (there are 6 of us “kids”). Dad has always had a quiet wit and we have always enjoyed a good laugh- even to get through rough times. But more and more, his favorite phrase has been “just pull the plug “. He still walks around with a walker, bathes himself, eats regular food- but he knows his cognition is really starting to slide and I think it scares him. My siblings may handle it differently but my daughter ( his oldest granddaughter) and I say this to him -“You have outlived both of your parents by 25 years- that means you got to spend 25 more years helping your children grow up, educating them, attending all important family events, being a part of raising 9 grandchildren- that is something neither of your parents had the opportunity “. And I just try to emphasize (again, something that we were told over the years) that life is change, sometimes good, sometimes not so good, but change nonetheless and to be grateful for all of those opportunities that were denied YOUR parents. My daughter and I have a also made some photo albums with old family pictures (even ones of our mom’s growing up) which he enjoys looking through with one or more of us. I know the dementia will get worse and some of our most frank conversations are about the future, but I always try to spin the conversation back to the FACTS of a life simply well lived. And the best gift you can give your grandad (in my feeling) is your presence and your time.
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Reply to Fuzzman
Agingmyself Nov 27, 2018
What a great answer, clearly from a loving son!
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Assisted suicide should be legal in all 50 states.
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Reply to shad250

My dad said and felt the same way as his health was declining.
I had a hard time dealing with listening to his ideas on how he would kill himself. At first I was getting so upset I actually went into the bathroom and got sick. I was so upset with him and
didn't know how to deal with it.
One day dad was doing well. his dementia wasn't that bad. So
I decided to sit next to his bed and tell him how much I loved him. I explained how much it hurt me to hear he wanted to end his life. I explained to dad that when I was born you were there for me always, good and bad times. How he never let me down and how his shoulder was always there for me if I needed it. I told him I felt the same way as he did , I said I loved him endlessly and wanted to be there for the good and bad times. I said daddy, you saw me into this world with mommy now its my turn to
be there for you. please allow me to hold and love you to the very end.
my dad cried and told me he loved me and wanted me to be there for him.
Dad never spoke of hurting himself again. We cried and laughed till the very end. We were together holding each other when he took his last breath.
It has been one year since my dad passed. My mom passed three weeks later. I am heart broken but I have so many memories of my parents that will always be in my heart.
I miss them so much.
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Reply to lizzy1952

I am answering this only from my point of view & watching my mother suffer thru kidney failure. First I would like to say that I do consider myself somewhat of a christian, I dont like to walk around screaming it for my own personal reasons & I find that it can quickly be a turn off to some people. I can talk about the lord without scaring them to death..

That being said here is where I stand on this issue. I suffered a car accident in 1987 & believe me 42 surguries it has taken its toll. I do go to pain management every month & hate it with a passion. Everyone thinks that you can throw a antidepressent pill at the issue & that just isnt so. Yes, Im depressed, but mostly I hurt like hell 24/7.. Every single morning when I wake suicide is on my mind. Thats why I choose to respond to this message. Im sitting here now in terrible pain with hopes that my meds will kick in soon & I will feel better. But the issue remains, at what point will I choose to take my own life. Everyone says "O thats soo sad"., Well, yes it is but it is just how things are & they can't be changed. Neurpoathy in my feet so bad I can hardly walk, failed spinal fusion & failed cervical fusion. Yes, I could make the doctors richer by having more surgery, but an honest one will tell you that its not going to take care of the pain. And this Opoid crisis has totally destroyed the real ligitimate pain patients chances of getting help.

Then there was mom. Suffering from dementia & kidney failure. She lived with me & I took care of her for many years. She didnt want to go to a home & wanted to die in ours. I told her as long as I had a say in the matter she would/could do what she wanted. She actually stopped her dialysis on my 51st birthday. I could see it was taking its toll on her. She struggled to get ready every other morning, she suffered, she would often fall, but mostly she was in pain. A pain that many of us will hopefully never know how bad. When the Hospice RN came to talk to her on the day she quit dialysis she wanted to make sure mom knew what she was doing. When she ask that question, Now Miss Betty, do you know whats going to happen now? Do you know your going to DIE.. I about fell over..My heart was crushed..

But as much as we want to keep our loved ones here on earth it really isn't fair that we try and hold on to them for our own purposes. I think the real reason people talk about suicide is its a plea for help & sometimes its just a simple warning they are tired. In a sense mom took her own life by quitting dialysis. I just had to let her know that I supported her with what ever decision she would make while going outside out of her sight to cry over her decision. She passed 4 yr ago this month and she isn't in pain now.

I have some pretty crappy doctors but in a perfect world when I expressed how I was physically feeling they would listen, they would offer to help & not throw a nerve pill at me. Like I said, Im not depressed I'm in PAIN. Well, I guess I am depressed, anyone who suffers from chronic pain is depressed. I'm not suicidal I'm just a realist & I'm tired. I don't plan on jumping off that bridge just yet, for the moment I am planning on buying an RV and hitting the road before I do take that final leap. So when you granddad says things like this again, please PLEASE don't tell him he is being "SILLY", thats the WORST thing you can say. His problems are REAL & so is his PAIN. Perhaps just talk with him about what makes him feel this way & then see if there are things his doctors can give him to relive some of that. It may be that depression is his main problem, But JUST LISTEN & TALK with him not discounting anything he says. I remember mom asking me for a Xanax. I had to keep & give her all her meds. She said "Son, you just can't imagine what I'm going thru". No, even I couldnt imagine. She knew she was dying & had days. So shower him with love & listen to what he is saying. God Bless
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Reply to Petieman63
Petieman63 Nov 29, 2018
Added note, Mom and I always talked about pain and end of life. We had a mutual understanding that when things got bad neither of us would allow the other to lay in pain without pain medication. If the pain meds are what kills me, then so be it. For 3 days, every 3 hours, I would roll up Xanaz and Dilodid (pain) gel caps and stick them under her gums. She was in terrible pain and I promised her I wouldn't allow that to happen. Luckly we talked, I do feel bad but would have felt worse had we not had that conversation.
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I know people who work in long term care and it is a well kept secret that many people have attempted suicide. Just because old people are closer to their natural end of life doesn't mean that we shouldn't take them seriously when they tell us they would rather be dead, especially concerning is the fact he has detailed plans about how to go about it. Please speak to his doctors about this or call a suicide hot line for advice.
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Reply to cwillie

Hello. I dealt with this with my 92 y/o father. The way that I handled it with him, was to be a a super good listener, and Really listen to his thoughts, feelings,etc.
i chose to talk with his primary physician first. He was able to get me the name of a dr. Who supports death with dignity .
i had to remind my father that the dr. Determined that he did not qualify; must be 6 months or less to live (medical reasons) when he would forget and start talking about it again. That dr. Charged $420.00, yet it was reimbursed some time later.My reasoning for letting him talk to the Specialist, was because I felt that he had the right to know. I prefaced this with a statement of, “I want you to know that I love you, am not ready to lose you, yet I feel that he he had the right to know, and the decision was not mine, but his to make. Respect for his rights was important to me.
you also build trust with respecting his rights as a person, and treating him that way. Hope this helps.
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Reply to Matlock46

It is interesting how many elders express wanting to die. I think it is perfectly normal. Imagine yourself living in a place where you are just waiting out the days for life to end...there is no purpose in your life, no joy...just the existence of being alive with dementia and dependence. My dad often expresses the wish to die and when he does I just empathize and listen. I give his wish respect. If I was him, I’d want to go too. He’s 97 and lived a very good life up until a year ago. He is miserable now that he’s wheelchair bound, can’t walk, totally dependent and lonely in LTC. He misses all his friends. This is no way to end one's life. I agree that we should have the choice to control when we die. He wants "the good lord to take him" as he says and this is what I pray for. We are living too long past our expiration dates.
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Reply to Harpcat

Assisted Living and Nursing Homes are making a lot of money from dementia not being considered a fatal condition with only six months to live. My RN daughter put her father, my ex, in a nursing home. He has Lewy Body dementia, and just lies there--he doesn't watch TV, he doesn't read, he rarely talks--yet his heart is sound, no trace of cancer. His meals are mostly Ensure. There was a brief period when he said he wanted "suicide pills" rather than spend the rest of his life in a nursing home. This isn't really life, and I don't want to put my children having to deal with me as well. I too am physically healthy at 81 but have one gene for Alzheimer's and worry constantly about me--but the window between realizing you have dementia and being able to kill yourself is very small. I don't know how to open it and jump out at the right time!
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Reply to Arleeda

none of us are going to live on this earth forever. after seeing my mom going down with alzheimers and parkinsons, i totally understand a person saying they wish to die before they get to incontinence, being bedridden and wheelchair bound. she can't string a simple sentence together nor feed herself. i've told my husband and kids if i ever get a diagnosis of a dementia, they are to stop all meds that would prolong my life. pain meds only if needed. i'm a christian, but at some point we need to stop obsessing over trying to live forever on this planet. at what cost? it's not right that we hold on to people just to make ourselves feel better. let them go already.
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Reply to desperada

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