Dad ‘s been diagnosed with lung cancer, stage IV, and the doctors want him to take chemotherapy, hoping to prolong his life. He is worried it will only make him feel worse. How much benefit is there for him?
Some folks won’t discuss ‘how they want to die’; but, if we want to prevent futile care and prolonged suffering, each of us needs to discuss what we want once the ‘Downward Spiral’ begins and the EOL approaches.
Our grandmother recently died miserably and our family now wants to talk about end-of-life care when our times come, but we don’t know how to begin or what really needs to be discussed. What should we do?
Our uncle has Alzheimer’s Dementia and is on quetiapine [Seroquel] to control his agitation. The nursing home wants to stop that drug. If it keeps his behavior controlled, why do we have to stop?
This drug is one of several anti-psychotics [such as risperidone [Risperdal], olanzapine [Zyprexa], haloperidol [Haldol] that are NOT approved by the FDA for use in dementia; rather, they were intended for disorders like schizophrenia. Most dementia patients will have times of agitation; staff have difficulty managing these behaviors and naturally turn to a ‘quick fix’– everyone wants “a pill for every ill”!
To palliate means to make the effects less painful, harmful, or harsh [M.Webster – from the Latin palliatus]. Both Palliative Care and hospice are comfort-focused, helping people to live comfortably rather than just be kept alive! PC can be provided simultaneously with other medical treatments – sometimes for years – improving the quality of life for those with any serious or life-limiting illness (which refers to incurable diseases usually leading to death, such as Alzheimer’s Dementia, cancers, end-stage heart disease), by:
A recent interview on NPR, “Knowing How Doctors Die Can Change End-of-Life Discussions”, discussed the finding that 88% of doctors, if they had a terminal illness, do not want CPR or aggressive treatments—the opposite of how they usually treat their patients!
Mom is 79, has mild Alzheimer’s, and suffers from arthritic pain. She made me promise to never put her in a nursing home. I now help her with bathing and sometimes toileting. My own health is poor but I feel naturally obligated to her. My family is worried about me but what else can I do?
Mom is 80 and has just been diagnosed with lung cancer which has spread to her bones. She is losing weight and has started using a cane. Her doctors told her no one knows how long she has but could live a year or more. We’ve read that few older people live so long. How can we determine how long she does have?
My uncle was told in hospital he had “end-stage heart failure” and to go home with hospice. That day, someone from a hospice came and left their business card, saying they were available when the family was ready to go home. Then, the hospital’s case manager came and gave the family a list of hospices to choose from. They are confused as to how this hospice person got their name, because they actually wanted a different hospice. Doesn’t the family have the right to choose a hospice?
This is not uncommon: the family doesn’t want to lose mom and hopes by making her follow doctors’ orders for her other conditions, such as the heart disease, they can “keep her around longer”.
It’s important to ask “why” has she made this decision?