As we grow older, we watch our parents and grandparents grow older too. They begin to be diagnosed with illnesses (such as Alzheimer, dementia, cancer, to name but a few) that we try to put it to the back of our minds because we don’t wish to think it will happen to our nearest and dearest.
Time creeps up on you and before you know it, your parents/grandparents are beginning to ail, they’re not functioning as they once used to and you have to start making decisions about their life, to ease their suffering. It’s a terrifying decision for any offspring (no matter how old) to make, let alone face.
Why is this? Is it for the fact, it makes you reflect on your own life and what could potentially happen to you (when you get to that certain age); or is it because you believe your parents/grandparents will live forever, and you’re not ready to let them go?
It could be said, the emotional side of us kicks in, and we become selfish, due to our human instinct; which tells us to preserve life at any cost. Could it be said that we’re not ready to let them go (even if they are)? Another thought, do we battle with the question of ‘preserve life as opposed to the quality of life’? When do we let logic take over as opposed to emotions when faced with these dilemma’s when it comes to our parents/grandparents?
I am currently watching my last living grandparent who has Alzheimer’s, had a heart attack, is now paralysed and can only be fed via a tube; go through this suffering of being kept alive or being allowed to die naturally. This conversation is a painful one for the immediate children (my mother and her siblings) because you don’t quite know what to do for the best. It’s your loved one! The hospital doctor, says they won’t resuscitate if anything else happens.
Do you think with cynicism,’ the hospital has given up, or it’s because the person has lived their life, had a good innings or the hospital just needs the bed back? These were thoughts that went through my head initially, but then I had to objectively step back and think what is best for the patient (my grandparent).
I went one step further and thought if it were our pets, would we let them suffer in the same way? I’d like to think we wouldn’t because our inbuilt compassion, to not let the animal suffer any more than it has to. Therefore, why can we not do the same for our nearest and dearest?
This is a discussion I have already had with my daughter, who firmly believes by the time I’m ready to kick the bucket, technology will have moved on and I can be saved LOL... Bless her for her optimism! Although my wishes still remain the same, ‘quality of life over life’. I would not wish to be in grandparent’s current position and nor should I have to be, which raises the topic to be debated, ‘life versus quality of life’.
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