wings and things

Dementia dilemmas and the ‘ripe old age’ myth

on January 11, 2013

Medical interventions in western societies across the globe have made it possible for elderly people afflicted with illnesses that cause them pain, misery and confusion to be given a few extra years of life.

Anthony was so distressed on the phone tonight that he said he wanted to die. He doesn’t usually say things like this and the thud of his words squished all of my heart’s remaining envelopes into hot putty.

His prostate cancer is fullblown and now untreatable, his Parkinson’s Disease (our main woe) has rendered him incapable of doing what most of us do automatically – eating, walking, going to the loo, answering the phone, conversing, smiling….

And now the dementia, nibbling away at all of our yesterdays.

I am sorry if this causes offence to anyone but death would be better than the living hell of a ‘ripe old age’

I love you so much, Anthony.

63 responses to “Dementia dilemmas and the ‘ripe old age’ myth

  1. niasunset says:

    I pray for you both dear Julie, not easy for you both. I don’t know what can I say… Be strong. Love you, nia

  2. you sound like you are in so much pain–Julie, I agree with you, if you cannot enjoy life, then why?

  3. terry1954 says:

    my heart goes out to you and Ants. When Al speaks of dying it just squeezes the life out of me

  4. SnapInTime says:

    This makes my heart ache. Wishing you strength.

    Yes, there are many treatments that can prolong life in the face progressive or degenerative illnesses of so many kinds. But what of quality of life? That matters. That truly matters, both to those suffering from the diseases and their love ones. ❤

  5. My thoughts are with you Jules and of course Anthony. The incremental way of losing your life partner in love and happiness must be excruciating. I hope that it helps you to know that you aren’t alone, you have people who look forward to hearing from you and about you everyday. I am only one of the many. Hugs.

  6. So very sorry. Saw my mother go through this hell. We went with her.

  7. robincoyle says:

    Oh gosh. Big hug to you.

  8. janechese says:

    You are not alone in your thoughts, Julie nor is Anthony. I saw so many life-saving measures when I worked in LTC directed by loving family members that just made the elder stay longer but with no quality of life. Who knows when it is the best time to let go?

  9. I agree. I do not wish to grow to a ripe old age just for the sake of someone saying ….oh you’re 80-85 .etc etc.

    Life is a gift that when it can be used to do things that give us purpose and fulfillment is wonderful. When it no longer means that to us I believe it is quite natural to be discouraged and just not want it anymore…..My heart goes out to you and Ming and Anthony..Diane

  10. viveka says:

    Julie, I don’t know what to say … to ease. My thoughts are with you just now and I wish I could put my arms around you – give you a hard Wivi-hug. Famous for them. Sitting in my mums bedroom now – she has gone to bed … so happy that she are so crystal clear – her hearing is bad and her sight the same, but her brain is working so good as mine. I understand I’m blessed.

  11. elizabeth says:

    I’m so sorry Julie. But I do understand your feelings. (((hugs)))

  12. My mom suffered before she passed for months. It was heartbreaking for everyone. All my prayers are dedicated you and your family Julie.

  13. Zyriacus says:

    Fully understand your last remark. Have to care here for my in-laws (86/89), where mother is losing all her mind over the last year. Pity is it brings out all her bad character threads all the more so I get revilement and scolding for all the help I offer. Not an easy thing to live with. Wish you all the best.

  14. I so hear you and I so agree there are many times when I am out at the nursing home visiting my nan that I think it is sad that so many are just breathing……………..not living, not enjoying life just breathing and wonder why…………..why do we allow/force our elderly to continue just breathing when for many death would be better

  15. lucewriter says:

    Julie, I’m so very sorry.

  16. tootlepedal says:

    There is a big debate about medical interventions in the life of older people to be had but nobody wants to have it.

  17. dcwisdom says:

    I’m so with you on that, Julie. I think there comes a moment of recognition with them that they know they’re on the way out and really wish for that option to come sooner rather than lingering. I remember visiting my grandfather long before he died – years – and our conversation would be: PawPaw, what have you been doing today? He would reply, oh, just waiting for my time to come, Deb. I don’t/can’t/won’t ever agree with this, but it made me RECONSIDER euthanasia just for Dad’s mental relief. I can’t even imagine the mental sickness they endure. An older lady that prepares my annual taxes once said to me, “The golden years are NOT that golden!”

    • jmgoyder says:

      Yes, yes, yes. Thankyou so much for this. I nearly used euthanasia as a tag but thought better of it.

      • dcwisdom says:

        I know. There’s one thing I won’t play, and that’s God. Although I developed much more compassion for the suffering through Dad’s illness, I could never be the one to say that’s it for you. And my mother’s nickname for me as a child was Hard-hearted Hannah. I know. That was pretty cruel, but that was my compassion level even as a child. I am better now, though, thankfully. Well, except toward roosters…
        Julie, you know I’m praying for you and Ming. One moment at a time…one prayer at a time…

  18. Not offended at all, totally understandable!

  19. Victoria says:

    I am a great believer in ‘an end to it all’ and medical intervention, and despite what the majority of people think about sustaining life at all cost – I believe in Letting Go and Allowing those in the situation that Anthony is in to make their own choice about Life & Death.

    Now you, in all your pain and sadness understand too (that every person should have the right to make their own choice).

    When a friend ended her life about 14-15 years ago, we, her girlfriends, couldn’t understand it at all.

    Now I understand her decision completely.

    Death… terminal illness… not about ‘wanting to die’ – it’s about ‘not wanting to live.’

    If one can understand that, then one can understand the wishes of those in Anthony’s situation (and support their right to end it all).

  20. ytaba36 says:

    Dementia is like a living death, it seems

  21. gus57 says:

    We love you, too, Julie.

  22. melissakoski says:

    Many share your sentiments though many are too timid of the truth and feelings to voice such things. I love that you share the struggles of being a caregiver, wife and mother in an honest light.

    Wondering if you’re in the midst of the dust storm. Thinking of you!

  23. Lynda says:

    I have no words. I wish there were some way I could help. (((O)))

  24. Ingrid says:

    I so agree with you Julie but it is such a painful dilemma … I understand completely where you are coming from – my prayers are with you all. I have been away a fair bit in recent months but hopefully will be settled for a while and will catch up soon.

  25. It tugs at my heart strings. It must be so difficult for you.
    You are such a hero.

  26. cuhome says:

    There is only love and mercy in your statement, Jules. To wish Anthony comfort is loving, and to wish that–even if that is possible only with death–is completely unselfish and more loving yet. Thank you for sharing this.

  27. Ms. Boice says:

    What an awful limbo. For you. For Anthony. For Ming. I think Hell is really limbo.

  28. FlaHam says:

    Julie, my heart goes out to you and Ming and the rest of your family. And I really know what Ants is going thru. Sometimes science isn’t the answer. Take care, and hang in there. — Bill

  29. tersiaburger says:

    Oh Julie I agree with you. Death is not the enemy!! Take care – thinking of you every day.

  30. hugr5 says:

    Oh man. I’m sorry.

  31. bluebee says:

    I agree, Julie – it’s a devastating thing to watch someone suffer so. I am so sad for you.

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