My beloved 91 year old uncle was living independently until he fell about a month ago. He had been short of breath, not able to get around much, and increasingly saying he wanted to die for some months. When he said that in the hospital after his fall, I asked him if he wanted to go on hospice, and explained what it was, and he emphatically said yes.
When he was discharged from the hospital about 3 weeks ago, he was sent immediately to inpatient hospice. My sister and I, who are his only family, started looking for an assisted living place, as he was still mentally sharp and energetic and clearly not near death. And he stopped saying he wanted to die, instead he wanted to get up and get stronger.
But they wouldn't help him get up, all they do there is give him more opioids. After a few days there he was still coherent and sharp, but he started getting agitated and paranoid in the evening. Then after a few days of that, he went to sleep and has not woken up for the past week, even when we hug him and talk to him.
Its just so hard to watch him get thinner and wither away, watch him twitch in his sleep and not know if he hears us, if he's dreaming, if he still wants to get up but can't move because he's so weak from lying in bed for these weeks. How helpless he must have felt, when he still wanted to get up and no one would help him. Should we have tried to get him into rehab quickly then? His condition changed so fast...just when we were zeroing in on a place where he could have rehab, he sharply declined.
I'm trying to remember that we were respecting his wishes, but what about when your wishes change once you realize that death is actually near? How long can a person just sleep, with no food or water? Is the point of all the opioids to hasten death? Honestly I don't want him to go. He was my best friend when I was a kid, a constant babysitter to me and my sibs. I'm trying to tell him I love him but I'll be OK if he goes, but I feel so sad thinking we should have somehow helped him get stronger when he wanted to.