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The Doctor has already said surgery. My mother said NO to that. I am her daughter, so will I be responsible under the law if the problem causes her death?

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If your mother is competent at the time she refused surgery, then you are not responsible for whatever happens to her health. Only she is.
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Sorry, I meant to write "she."
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I don't blame your mother for refusing surgery. My father didn't want surgery at 86 years old and my mother talked him into having it. He spent two years struggling to recover before he passed on. He walked to the hospital for surgery and walked out on a walker that he had to use until he passed. Just be sure to make plans for passing on at home--if he wants last rites, etc. Unfortunately, we were not prepared for a home death,, so my Dad had to spend his last three days in the hospital. Not entirely bad, because they were able to keep him alive long enough or people to come and say good-bye. That might not have happened at home.
There are pros and cons to both---just be prepared.
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She's 86, and you say alert, no where close to death & not in pain. While her having this problem may bother you, at 86 her having surgery could kill her. Surgery is especially hard on the elderly and they are much more likely to die or if they are in the beginnings of dementia it could cause their dementia to accelerate much more rapidly then it would have without surgery. That's what happened to my 87 year old grandmother - surgery caused a vibrant, alert woman to go into full blown Alzheimer's and when she woke up from anesthesia she couldn't even remember what state she lived in. Within 6 months she was in memory care barely able to remember her own name. So unless your mother NEEDS this to surgery to save her life, I would agree with her not having it.
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If your mother is still in her right mind and refuses, how can YOU possibly be 'held responsible'? Tell her doctor you disagree with her decision, have it put into her medical records, but then let it go if that is what she wishes. I can't imagine being 86 and undergoing surgery in order to live another few miserable years, when my time is up, my time is UP. Comfort care, yes. Something small and fixable, maybe. Otherwise, why go through that, I myself would hopefully be prepared to meet my maker. I know, it goes against everything we automatically think should happen - 'modern medicine can do miracles! she'll get another 10 years!' - but trust me, once you get up there in age, you will understand. Bless you, both!
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Benevelynt, I'm not sure if you're more worried about the being held responsible bit, or about the what will happen to your mother if she continues to reject her doctor's advice bit. And actually, I wonder if you know which bothers you more - after all, they're both a big deal.

Either way, it is a miserable and worrying time for you and I'm sorry to read about it. I hope these points will be helpful:

1. If your mother has mental capacity, then even in the extreme case that her decision to refuse surgery seems almost suicidal, it is still her decision to make. You don't have to agree with it, you certainly don't have to like it, but you do have to respect it. As does her doctor.

The ideal caregiver - the model presented in the ethics textbooks, that is, if he or she ever existed in real life - would support the parent's decision. Once she's had the information, and she's discussed it with her doctor, and come to a conclusion, then the 'correct' thing to do is to stop arguing and be her advocate. But there's nothing to stop you crossing your fingers that she'll change her mind, and you can always hope.

2. Covering your behind is the easy part: regularly report in to your mother's doctor. You can, if you like, ask to have your disagreement with her choices put on record; but in any case report every concern you have about her condition, and keep notes yourself.

3. If your mother has started refusing to seek medical advice at all, simply because she doesn't want to hear another word about the surgery, this could become a serious problem from the point of view of treating any symptoms - ensuring adequate pain relief for example. So, what you need to do is reassure her that no one will try to change her mind about the surgery - unless she herself wants to, of course - but that it is still very important for her comfort and wellbeing to see her doctor regularly.

4. For your own peace of mind, look at your mother's decision from her point of view. Her reasons for deciding against surgery may be very good ones. Put yourself in her shoes, and think how you would feel if it was you who had to go through the procedure, take the risks, live with maybe painful or disabling after-effects… It could be that in her place you'd also come to the decision that it wasn't worth it.

That still leaves you to deal with the sadness that your mother is ill and there seem to be no treatment options; but at least you can set aside the frustration and additional stress of thinking 'if only...'

I see I'd missed a post and you were setting off for an appointment - how did you get on? Please update.
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If your mom is competent, why are you not giving her the right to chose. You would want the same courtesy. It is not for you to coerce or force her to have the surgery because as it was stated earlier, how much is her quality of life being effected and will this surgery really improve that quality. A lot of times surgery that may not seem minor but can have huge ramifications for the person, it can decrease her quality of life which at 86 if your mom is able to take care of herself with minimal assistance is a blessing for her. I think you need to talk with your mom, have that hard conversation that you don't want to have. As k her her thoughts and feelings, and it is ok to give her yours, but if the surgery isn't for a life-threatening emergency don't force her into it, because what if the surgery causes more harm, what if her heart stops or she ends up needing total care, and unrelenting pain and suffering from the surgery, trust me it happens. Which can you live with your mom refused, lived her life in her way or you live with the guilt you forced her to do something she didn't want done and the outcome was bad
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Also the doctor should be documenting in her medical record that the patient refuses surgery. Be sure that he did. Do you have health care POA for her? And HIPPA rights for access to her record?
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You must get her to the doctor. Trick her if you have to! I think you are asking whether you will be held responsible if she deceases, or to be blunt, when. She is bringing on her own demise, not you, by refusing needed surgery.
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I still wonder why you don't disclose the surgery. That is the most important fact in responding to this post. Also living 15 years beyond age 86 begs the question of quality of life. Enjoy life to 90 without surgery vs extend life to 95 and not be independent. Who knows without knowing your mom's recommended surgery. I think it is absurd to speculate or discuss without that info!
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I have made an appointment for my mom. We will be going soon to address this old problem. She doesn't understand why because she says her answer will be the same. I talked to the nurse that scheduled the appointment, and she said they get this all the time. I talked to her about everything and she said don't worry we record all conversations and it will be noted. Pray for me as I take her kicking and screaming to this appointment.
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You still have not stated what the surgery is. I have seen surgeries done on elderly patients because they had good Medicare coverage and the family did not understand the pros and cons. 86 years is risky for elective surgery no matter how healthy your mom is. Anesthesia could change your mom and hospitals are known to cause life threatening infections. I agree with the other posts suggesting talking with your mom to get an understanding of her wishes and then get help with all of the documents. Enjoy your mom and good luck.
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So difficult making decisions for those we care for. Don't know how serious your mother's medical problem is, but could you 'con' her into believing she was just going for a checkup and then bring the medical problem to the doctor's attention? Yes, it is a little deceitful, but perhaps your mother refuses to accept reality. You are the one that ultimately needs to 'step up' and insist she gets the care she needs. How would you feel if your mom died and you did not take a pro-active approach to her health? Please, I have no intentions of hurting one's feelings, but after-all, this is your mother. Even at 86, she could live another 10 or 15 years, but she needs help. God bless you.
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You can't make a competent adult do anything, even if it's good for them. Unless there's a court order to comply with some kind of treatment, but that doesn't happen without a lot of intervention with social services & possibly law enforcement.

The potential for trouble comes when the person is not competent and has had access to medical care intentionally withheld by caretakers.
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All of these comments are very helpful! Mother is no where close to death as far as I know. She is very alert. She is in great shape other than this one problem that bothers me more than it does her. She is not hurting in anyway. I am just seeking answers to a few questions I have that most people want to ask but don't. I love my mother dearly and only want the best for her. I am by myself in this and it is all new to me. Thank-You to everyone.
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Whetever sort of surgery are we talking here, on an 86 year old, that without it, could be life threatening? And at 86, shouldn't she have that option to say no to it? I would if I were her!
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I think you're looking for confirmation that you will not be liable for whatever happens if your mom does not have the surgery - and you will not be. The advice to put a POA (power of attorney – sometimes called a healthcare proxy) in place is something you would do now before your mom becomes incompetent, so down the road you will not have this issue. However, it seems you and your mom have a difference in opinion on her care so she may resist a POA to you and/or be very rigid in her instructions in the POA - and you would have to follow those instructions. So be mindful of that. Guardianship is only an option if you believe someone is incompetent and is a danger to themselves and you petition a court to grant you the legal right to make medical and financial decisions for them. In this case, your mom seems competent so that's not an option. You mostly have to just live with whatever decision she makes at this point.
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Benevelynt, no it is not your fault. She is free to choose. If you have siblings, make sure you are all on the same page. I would also refuse surgery at 86, but I would protect you by putting that in writing by signing a MOLST. (medical orders for life sustaining treatment). Ask the MD.
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Do not ressucitate.
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What is DNR?
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I would have POA's and LIving Will since it's possible she may get sick and be unable to say what she wants. If she is not able to speak or write,, then the Living Will and Healthcare POA, will be needed.
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If hospice isn't necessary then why are you worried about her dying at home? From what I've read the #1 regret people have about hospice is that they didn't call soon enough. They are so much more than a support for the final days, they offer social workers, chaplains, respite care and they make sure all the paperwork is in place for an expected death in the home. It wouldn't hurt to have her evaluated.
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My mother's doctor does know from her visit with him last year. She insists that at her age surgery is not an option. It just kills me, but she is very stubborn and wont even go back in to see him. She said "I know what he will say and I am not going through anymore over this medical issue". Why POA, and DNR? Hospice is not necessary at this time.
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I would think that it's common for an 86 year-old to refuse surgery. I would make sure you have her Living Will and POA's. I would try to honor her wishes.
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What was the doctor's response when she decided against the surgery? Did he suggest you get hospice involved? At her age I can understand that she feels she has had a full life ans isn't willing to go through surgery.
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Do you have POA for your Mom? Is she competent? Does she have a DNR in place? Like kimber said, if she is competent it is her decision. If not and if you do not have POA either Mom needs to execute one or the only option is guardianship.
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If your mom has not been declared incompetent - then she is capable of making decisions for herself, even if the decisions are poor ones.
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