A Morbid Subject

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TravelforFun
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A Morbid Subject

Post by TravelforFun »

My FIL went into a nursing home a year ago at age 83. His condition has not changed much and he continues to require assistance with his daily activities. His mind still works but physically, he can't do much, and he could be in this nursing home for years on Medicaid. When I visit him, I get depressed because I see that he's just existing and not really living. I tell myself when I get to this point, I would ask my doctor and my family to let me go so I can no longer be a burden to my family and society, and there are ways that you can do this. However, I also wonder whether my thinking would change when I get older and more frail.

Are we more afraid of death the older we get? Do older people usually want to hang on to the last flicker of their candles?
RadAudit
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by RadAudit »

Depends. Some do, some don't.

But I wouldn't make any plans I couldn't change at a later date.

Anyway, the current problem is your perception. His view of the world may be different. And your job is to make his life as pleasant as possible when you visit. If you get depressed, you can take a walk after the visit is over with and shake it off.
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cheese_breath
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by cheese_breath »

I suspect it depends on what he thinks is on the other side.
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Christine_NM
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by Christine_NM »

In my experience the older you are, the less you fear your own death. You may fear the death of loved ones, illness, and disability more, but not your own death. This is only me and I certainly do not speak for anyone else.

Read up on death and dying. The more you know about something, the less you fear it.
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aristotelian
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by aristotelian »

My dad had a cardiac arrest at age 40 that caused irreparable brain damage. He spent the next 20+ years with a form of dementia in nursing homes. I would not wish that existence on anyone nor myself. Unfortunately we do not have the legal framework to make decisions for people in that gray area. Even if your dad could express a wish for assisted suicide most states do not allow it. Very sorry you are experiencing this. I hope the end comes soon and humanely.
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knpstr
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by knpstr »

It goes both ways.

Some are still very 'with it' mentally and if they are able to read, socialize, etc... they get along remarkably well.
While others don't do as well with losing their physical abilities and get quite depressed themselves.

As for the fear of death, I think it also depends on the person.
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flamesabers
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by flamesabers »

TravelforFun wrote:Are we more afraid of death the older we get? Do older people usually want to hang on to the last flicker of their candles?
I'm sure older people think of death more often as they realize they have less time left to fulfill their dreams and aspirations. However, I don't think that necessary equates to fear. Death can be seen as a permanent deadline/fact of life or as a horrific experience.

Has he made plans for his funeral and what happens to his estate after he passes on? I think that would be a major clue as to what his thoughts on death are.

I think another way to look at this is as a completely health and able person would you rather be severely disabled or would you rather be dead? People who might chose the latter might have a change of heart if they happened to experience the unfortunate tragedy of becoming severely disabled. The reverse can also hold true. It really depends on who you are, what your priorities are and how resilient you are.
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tennisplyr
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by tennisplyr »

I recently read a survey that asked people over 60 if they wanted to be young again or they're were OK with their age. The majority said they did not want to be young again. I'm in my mid sixties and have no fear of death at all. I do not, however, want to get to a point where I have to rely mainly on others or am a burden. Cheers. :happy
Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.
mrc
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by mrc »

I have witnessed several slow death processes, among relatives and friends. I have seen both sides: Those of sound mind and failing bodies, and those of sound body with failing minds. These were chronic conditions, not acute ones. Early on, those with failing bodies were by far more miserable and aware of their situations than those with dementia and memory issues. But toward the end, some with mind-related deficits became combative and appeared to be in more distress day-to-day.

How is your FIL feeling and acting? Is he properly supervised, medicated, supported? Those are questions to answer and efforts to pursue for you, rather than getting into a bad head space yourself. Can you make his existence any better? If not, that's OK. Can you just spend time with him? You'd be surprised what gets through to people, and what matters.

As for the effect on you, I'm with you there. I can soak up the despair and depression like a sponge. I worry that when my time comes, I'll be trapped alone, and in a situation I cannot escape. But hopefully by the time I reach that phase, there will be alternatives. Be sure your family knows how you feel, and be sure to complete advanced directive paperwork. It's no guarantee, but for now it's better than doing nothing.

My mom's world is shrinking. She thinks a 5-minute car ride to a doctor's office 1/2 mile away is quite the ordeal now. I had a 37 mile one-way commute to work, so that 1/2 mile seemed trivial to me. My hunch is that as we age and our worlds get smaller, and our physical and mental faculties diminish, the changes occur slowly enough that we don't notice. And we won't panic. End of life doesn't sound like fun any my age now, but I can see how at some point, it will be a comforting thought that my troubles will come to an end.
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dm200
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by dm200 »

Different views from different folks.

Some failing elderly view being able to do less as a huge burden, while others seem happy that they can do anything.

There is a 98 (or perhaps 99 now) old woman we know who still drives, is active in her church and goes to "Senior" exercise class three days a week. Mind sharp as a tack.
Last edited by dm200 on Fri Apr 28, 2017 12:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Pajamas
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by Pajamas »

Take a class on death and dying at a local college. You may be able to audit it for free or for a nominal fee if you are senior. It would be helpful to be in a classroom with other students for the discussion and differing viewpoints. If there is not a course available locally, then there are open online courses on the topic.
mrc
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by mrc »

dm200 wrote:Different views from different folks.

Some failing elderly view being able to do less as a huge burden, while others seem happy that they can do anything.

There is a 98 (or perhaps 99 now) old woman we know who still drives, is active in her church and goes to "Senior" exercise class three days a week. Mind sharp as a tack.
Spot on. I saw a presentation showing a man in a trench coat sitting on a bench feeding pigeons, and another man on a bike with what looked like a messenger back pack. The men were the same age. My mom can depress me -- but I try to put that energy instead into my own care, and on being the man on the bike, not the man on the bench. The the extent I have control anyway.
By the time you know enough to choose a good financial adviser, you don't need one. | bogleheads.org is my advisor: The ER is 0.0% and the advice always solid.
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dm200
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by dm200 »

mrc wrote:
dm200 wrote:Different views from different folks.
Some failing elderly view being able to do less as a huge burden, while others seem happy that they can do anything.
There is a 98 (or perhaps 99 now) old woman we know who still drives, is active in her church and goes to "Senior" exercise class three days a week. Mind sharp as a tack.
Spot on. I saw a presentation showing a man in a trench coat sitting on a bench feeding pigeons, and another man on a bike with what looked like a messenger back pack. The men were the same age. My mom can depress me -- but I try to put that energy instead into my own care, and on being the man on the bike, not the man on the bench. The the extent I have control anyway.
My late maternal grandmother, who had a very difficult life in many ways, was happy for almost any and everything through her elder years until (at the age of 89) suffered a broken hip and lingered in and out of awareness until she died five years later.
Dinosaur Dad
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by Dinosaur Dad »

I think most people are in denial about this topic...choose not to think about it at all.

But I think we all need to think about it at least a little, and to have "that discussion" with loved ones.

First of all, in order to plan: I convinced my mother to finish her will, power of attorney, health care proxy. It was immeasurably helpful, as I was able to easily step in and help her over the 10+ years that her dementia progressed. I have great peace knowing that I was able to make these years easier for her, and I was able to manage her money in a prudent way. I know of lots of situations that devolved into nasty fights and court cases.

Second: the fundamental question is quality of life. Yes we will all decline at some level over time. But to me it's about accepting those limits as you embrace what you do have. I'm 60 and I used to work in the yard from morning until night some days. Can't really do that anymore. But I still love the time that my body allows me.

Even towards the end, when she was in a wheelchair living in a nursing home, my mom was able to enjoy sitting outside and watch the boats go by on a nice day. She wasn't able to converse very well, but she enjoyed eating, listening to music, and being with her kids. Near the end, the question became more acute as we had to decide how invasive the medical treatment would be; it's a hard judgment as to what level of "quality of life" is minimally acceptable, and I found a lot of great writing and guidance on this from various groups like the Alzheimer's association and from our local church.

Hard topic for sure, but worth some thought.
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jjunk
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by jjunk »

I know it wont be a popular opinion but my DW and I both subscribe to voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide for the elderly. It's not a decision to be taken lightly obviously but I would very much opt out of life if I were confined to a certain kind of life. Obviously, how you view death plays a large part in something like this (I'm not religious for example).
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by Theseus »

I highly recommend reading the book https://www.amazon.com/Being-Mortal-Med ... ing+mortal.

When a doctor experienced in dealing with death is not prepared for their own death, it is very hard for some of us that experience very few times in our life times. It opened my eyes about how I want to spend my last years.
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TravelforFun
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by TravelforFun »

jjunk wrote:I know it wont be a popular opinion but my DW and I both subscribe to voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide for the elderly. It's not a decision to be taken lightly obviously but I would very much opt out of life if I were confined to a certain kind of life. Obviously, how you view death plays a large part in something like this (I'm not religious for example).
How would you do this?
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William4u
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by William4u »

TravelforFun wrote:
jjunk wrote:I know it wont be a popular opinion but my DW and I both subscribe to voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide for the elderly. It's not a decision to be taken lightly obviously but I would very much opt out of life if I were confined to a certain kind of life. Obviously, how you view death plays a large part in something like this (I'm not religious for example).
How would you do this?
5 US states allow physician assisted suicide...
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/201 ... -assisted/
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jjunk
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by jjunk »

TravelforFun wrote:How would you do this?
As I said, it wont be a popular opinion but I'm personally of the opinion that you can get to a point where life isn't worth living. For myself, that will likely come when my physical mobility is severely compromised or if a chronic illness becomes untenable. Anything that reduces the quality of my own life really.

There is a blog that talks about this topic globally that has interesting stories about why people make this choice: https://www.peacefulpillhandbook.com/blog/and I find that, in many of the situations, I would choose the same option.
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by afan »

Reactions to declining abilities vary widely among people. In part this is personality and in part it is a matter of getting used to it. Years ago I had a colleague who was hit by a drunk driver. Wheel chair bound with limited use of one arm. Yet was one of the most positive people you could ever meet. In spite of her injuries, fully functional and productive at her high status job. I did not know her when it happened, but she was doing far better than just making it work. She was thriving.

Someone at 90 typically can do far less than they could at 30. But that was 60 years ago. They are more likely to react to the changes in their abilities since 89. I am sure my kids would be horrified if they had to occupy this antiquated body I call mine. But I am used to it.

I think people tolerate slow declines for a very long way.
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Re: A Morbid Subject

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread has run its course and is locked (general comment). The OP is not asking specifically what to do, just what people think about the issue.

Guidance can be found in this thread: A reminder that non-investing general comment threads are OT

Note: This thread was removed for moderator review. It's now restored and will remain locked.
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