Old Age is Not A Diagnosis

September 1, 2011; By: Audrey Miller
All About Estates

I would like to share a very personal experience and that is watching my 96 year old mother in law slowly die. We are not prepared to die-although I believe she is- but our medical health care system is not capable of providing the necessary supports to allow us to do so, with dignity and grace. She was healthy until a few months ago- still living independently and playing bridge in the spring of this year. One part of her body stopped working and then another, until there is only her shell that remains. Her wish, like most of us, is that we fall asleep in our own bed and not wake up. This departure is for the lucky few. For the others, like my mother in law, there is a slow degradation that occurs, during which time as the body tries to shut down, it is prevented to do, by a myriad of obstacles. All attempts to access palliative care resources, failed. She does not have a diagnosis with an end date. She is simply- dying of old age. The humiliation to the body is endless, and it is this lack of dignity and most glaringly, the intensity of pain that she is experiencing, that is most upsetting to her and to those that love her. She has lived a full and wonderful life but she is now tired and wants to close her eyes. At the beginning of our life cycle, we are prepared for pregnancy, birth and childhood. However, when it comes to dying, we are not prepared. Not so much in terms of organization, wishes and wills but the physical aspect of it. Each of us has a different story but we will all be there one day Some sooner than later and for those who have lived a full and long life, why is it that the ending of ours days needs to be a miserable, painful and prolonged process? My mother in law deserves better.

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