Q: Dear Regina, My brother is bedridden in a care home. He expressed his wishes to not be hospitalized for any reason and wanted to die in his own bed. I do not understand why the care home called the ambulance and took him to the hospital where he ended his last breath. I feel I have failed his wishes and the care home didn’t follow the (do not resuscitate) DNR code. How should I deal with this?
A: DNR does NOT mean do not treat!! All other treatment can and would continue. If the person (or family that have power of attorney) does not want further investigation/treatment or admission to hospital, they need to have an advance care plan in place as the care home won’t have to call an ambulance. The care home should have a protocol and choices to help you plan for situations that come up. These are things you should know about before you admit your loved one.
DNR should be upheld no matter the reason their heart or breathing has stopped as this is the person’s wishes and the DNR status should have been fully discussed with next of kin and signed by their GP or senior hospital doctor.
If you perform CPR on a person with a valid DNR in place, this could be seen as assault.
Q: Dear Regina, My sister takes care of my mum full-time and I am so grateful for her because I do not have the patience. I do help her as much as possible but know this is not enough. How can I let her know how much I appreciate her caring for our mum?
A: You would be surprised what telling her thank-you straight forward and express your gratitude can do for her. Other things you can do may be giving her a gift she would enjoy, giving her a day off, and spending sister time with her. You may need to arrange someone to watch your mum while you both are away. Maybe help her plan for regular breaks and do the laundry in the house for her. There are endless things you can do to show your appreciation and a letter or card that says thank-you. Being a caregiver 24/7 is hard and thank-you is rarely stated. So, thank you, for caring for the caregiver! 🙂 Amazingly, this will help reduce your sister’s stress. One of the stressors is not feeling appreciated for a never-ending job.
Q: Dear Regina, I lost my sister to cancer three weeks ago and my mum keeps asking for her. I just do not know how to deal with this. How do I keep from telling her? Or is it okay not to tell her? I miss my sister and the mother I knew before this dementia thing came. How do I make this easy for both of us?
A: I am so sorry for your loss. 🙂 This is a tough one. However, assess whether your mom is stressed about the news of your sister’s passing. If she is handling the news okay with no stress, then telling her is okay. Keep in mind that the frequency of her asking may be a need for her to talk about her, so say things to her like “Mum, tell me what you like about…” or “I like when ___ use to…” Bring up a pleasant memory about your sister when she was much younger. This will help the both of you heal together. Hopefully, you have someone you can talk to. Be good to yourself.
Q: Dear Regina, My cousin has Parkinson’s Disease, according to a recent diagnosis. Will you list some classic symptoms? I am wondering if my brother is experiencing some of the same symptoms. Will my cousin get worse over time?
A: Parkinson’s Disease will get worse over time. It is a progressive degenerative condition. Here are a few symptoms that he may experience. Keep in mind that no one experiences all the symptoms the same. For motor symptoms, one my experience slow movement, shaking when at rest, stiffness, balance problems and episodes of freezing when trying to walk.
Other symptoms could be sleeping problems such as insomnia, REM sleep disorder, sleepiness during the day, restless leg syndrome and other conditions such as constipation and other bowel problems, bladder issues, heavy sweating, sudden drops in blood pressure, drooling, trouble swallowing and choking, double vision, hallucinations and delusions, changes with mental ability, mood, anxiety and apathy, and no impulse control.
They are often diagnosed with depression but many times it is not depression. It is not being able to control laughter or tears or no emotion at all (apathy). These are just some of them. Learning more about Parkinson’s Disease will help you and your cousin live and cope better.
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