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We lost my mother after a long battle cancer about 10 years ago, because of this, my Father's fear of medical treatment is now full blown trauma. He is in his early 70s, but recently started feeling dizzy, and has partial vision loss in his left eye. He has had no drooping, and is physically able to do everything he normally can. Except he needs to rest from stomach pain, and can't drive (because he can't see).


I am really concerned about his health, but he refuses to go to urgent care (it's been ongoing since 11/6). But he is extremely religious (catholic), and believes the loss of sight with pretty colors is sent from God, so he can atone for his sins before he dies and thus avoid purgatory. I want him to get this checked before things get worse, but he is very strong willed and just repeats "I trust God".


How do I navigate this situation, with his serious medical issue and angry refusal to go to the Doctor?


We have tried appealing to his religious side, begging him, making promises if he just has it checked then he does not have to get anything treated, and trying to emotionally open up about our worry and love for him. I want to keep him healthy and safe.

If he’s competent to make his own decisions, in other words he understands the possible outcomes from refusing to see a provider, then you should respect his choices. I do suggest that you encourage him to sit down with his provider to discuss and complete a living will/ advanced directives so he has an opportunity to clarify for everyone involved what he wants in terms of medical care should he become incapacitated. If he’s tired of life or believes that God has a plan for him you should respect his wishes, even if you don’t agree with them.
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Reply to ElizabethY
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ShirleyB Nov 13, 2021
Elizabeth, You are a wise woman. You said everything I was going to say. Let the man make his decision, help him be safe and comfortable and stop nagging him. Be cheerful and loving and supportive when you're with him. I'm a nearly 90 year old woman and in good health, but if it starts to fail, my family have all been told to just make sure I'm safe and cared for and Let Me Go.
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So your profile says that dad has had a stroke. Is that what you think is going on or did he have a stroke and end up in the hospital and get treated at some date?

I ask, because a stroke can cause dementia and that sounds like what you are dealing with.

I, personally, would not push for medical intervention if he really doesn't want it. It's not okay to force treatment on anyone and even though I believe that The Lord gave us medicine for us, I also don't believe that people should be kept alive by intervention if they don't want to go through the treatments, some of which destroy your quality of life. Maybe, he is fearful that he will have to go through what your mom did, to end up dead anyway.

Has anyone had a talk to him about why he doesn't want medical intervention if it is an easily treatable condition? Is he afraid of the actual diagnosis? What he would like in the event he is incapacitated and can not make his wishes known? Because that is what should happen if/when he can no longer advocate for himself, his wishes for what does and doesn't happen to his body.

Please do not use an emergency to force your will on him. It is his life and health after all.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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This sort of belief used to be common in the Catholic community I grew up in.

If your father wants to ignore his heath at his relatively young age, I'd be trying to get him to see a mental health practitioner.

Make sure he understands that the consequences of ignoring warning signs (sent by God, who gave him a brain) can be serious issues down the road that will cause YOU trouble and inconvenience. I wouldn't be acting concerned around him, I would feign anger and annoyance at the trouble this is likely to cause you.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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Something is wrong in his mindset. He has Catholic beliefs but avoids Catholic authority. Do you see the confabulation?
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Reply to MACinCT
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A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.
Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, "Jump in, I can save you."
The stranded fellow shouted back, "No, it's OK, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me."
So the rowboat went on.
Then a motorboat came by. "The fellow in the motorboat shouted, "Jump in, I can save you."
To this the stranded man said, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith."
So the motorboat went on.
Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, "Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety."
To this the stranded man again replied, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith."
So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.
Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, "I had faith in you but you didn't save me, you let me drown. I don't understand why!"
To this God replied, "I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?"
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Reply to OKMo86
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FairyStars- you wrote: "making promises if he just has it checked then he does not have to get anything treated,"

Are you saying those promises just to get him to agree to see the doctor? Or are you really going to leave him be after you find out he has xyz diseases? I don't think you will be any less worried after you find out what's wrong with him.

It seems that your dad is adamant about NOT wanting any intervention or treatment for his conditions even if the conditions are treatable. And he's willing to live with them. and die because of them. Death is not his concern. Salvation is.

Maybe there's some hope if you can find a very persuasive priest that can move your dad from his conviction, tying getting treatment to salvation somehow.

Otherwise, if I were in your shoes, I'd leave him be. He has a right to his faith whether you agree with it or not.
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Reply to polarbear
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Just want to say that Urgent care is not a solution. They are limited in what they can do. Its just a doctor when your PCP is not available. Anything serious, you are sent to an ER.

What you may have to do is wait until the situation is so serious, like he loses consciousness. Then u call 911 and get him transported to a hospital.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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FairyStars Nov 12, 2021
Unfortunately because he has avoided medical care for so long (and has moved around a lot), he doesn't have a PCP. I think at this point we just have to wait until an 911 needs to be called, which is a hard pill to swallow.
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Not meaning to be disrespectful, but I recently read this fictional but insightful anecdote: A man was drowning, and a Coast Guard boat came by and threw him a line, and he said, "No, thanks, God will save me." Then a civilian boat came by and offered the same help, but was met with the same refusal. Then a whale came by, motioning for the man to get on his banck, and they could swim to safety, but the man refused, and he died. When he saw God, he asked how He could let that happen, and God said, "I sent you 2 boats and a whale." Maybe you could use that tactic with your dad, that symptoms are a sign to get things checked out. I agree with the other suggestions here, too. Perhpas a priest could offer some advice.
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Reply to rlynn123
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If it were me, I’d take him to church. Ask your local priest to speak to him and tell him that God wants him to get well. That allowing himself to become a burden to his daughter is an affront to God.

I think a good priest is your absolute best bet.
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Reply to Lizbitty
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You could accept his wishes. It's his life, and he has apparently made a clear decision to not appeal to medical treatment. Because that's his right.

Is it not possible that your fear and grief and panic is possibly your own trauma of your mother's death?

Seek healing, counseling and be accepting of your father's feelings.
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ShirleyB Nov 17, 2021
AMEN to your answers. Why do we try so hard to prolong an elder's life when they don't wish us to? Especially when they have serious and often uncomfortable or painful ailments. Once an ailing/aging person comes to terms with the reality that they are on the way to death without dramatic and traumatic treatment, and they have accepted this fact and are ready to go, we should keep them as comfortable as possible and honor their wishes.
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