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To CPR or not to CPR that is the question…

To CPR or not to CPR that is the question…

It was a heart wrenching call to listen to….And collectively we, as a country, listened and had a strong reaction to it.

images-1The 911 operator pleading with a Nurse to give the elderly woman at Glenwood Gardens CPR or she would surely die. The Nurse refuses….You could hear the collective gasp as the people watching the news reacted. How heartless was this nurse? What kind of cruel and tortuous place was this Glenwood Gardens? The nurse told the 911 operator it was against the policies of Glenwood Gardens to perform CPR.

The Nurse stayed with the elderly women until emergency help arrived.

The elderly woman’s daughter made a statement to the press about being satisfied with her mother’s care. Our outrage continued. The story, a week later, is still making headlines.

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We are programmed to think, saving a life is our duty….a duty that proves how much we care, love or even how heroic we are.

I’m sure most of us who are over 50 have been in the position of taking care of our parents and / or grandparents. Both my parents have died, but I’ve been through the process of choosing assisted living facilities for 2 parents, 1 in law, and 1 grandparent. During this process it was an opportunity and a crucial time for my parents and their grown children caring (my siblings) to discuss what their wants and needs are.

images-4I can say, without exception, the feeling of each of my elderly family members….along with all the various members of the immediate and extended family, the primary concern was their immediate comfort and overall quality of life. The acceptance of their own mortality was being accepted by everyone involved, including the parent or grandparent.

My grandmother lived until she was 98 years old, but daily complained that the only reason she was still alive was to keep the bread from molding. My mother lived until 94 and worked on about 10% of her heart for the last 10 years of her life, so she sat in a chair….for 10 years.

The news has asked us to consider in this story abut the nurse and and elderly woman the fact that there was no “DNR”….The elderly woman failed to put it in writing that she didn’t want to be resuscitated in the event of a life threatening emergency.  My mother had a DNR and when she had a heart attack in Florida in a Restaurant, the EMT’s HAD to give her CPR….so the DNR is really about Hospital policy I think.

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I know from experience that paperwork isn’t always done….I know from experience that the wishes of our elderly relatives are held dear and carefully guarded by us, the grown children who have now fallen into a caregiver role…and I know after losing both young and old that sometimes….sometimes, it’s not the dying part that scares us, it’s the not dying part. Lingering and withering away past our point of “quality” is one of our primary concerns. I don’t want anybody watching me slowly decay…let me go with dignity!

The news has failed to consider that possibly this, THIS, is how the family (including the elderly woman) decided she wanted to live and wanted to die.

We’re so reluctant to let a decision to die to be ok. We need to save a life….whether they want to be saved or not.

Do you have an opinion?  Let’s hear it….

 


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