Many of us have seen ER, the intense medical drama about the lives of doctors working in a Chicago hospital, trying their best to save people who sometimes don’t want to be saved. There are many television shows out there like it, and many of them have featured at least one patient who was “DNR.” This is usually an elderly person, or a person with a terminal illness, and there is usually a lot of arguing over what to do if they stop breathing. Should the doctor’s save them? Or let them go?
This might just sound like a plot twist to create more drama on T.V., but in actuality, it is based on a real life issue. DNR means “Do Not Resuscitate.” This means that if the patient or his or her power of attorney has signed a DNR order, doctors are not legally allowed to perform CPR to resuscitate them if they stop breathing. They are not allowed to take any “heroic measures” to save that person’s life, because that is not what the person wants. Advanced CPR can be invasive, and it is not always totally effective, meaning that it can leave the patient with brain damage or reduced mental or physical function. Sometimes a patient signs a DNR because they don’t want to live like this, but in many cases, they sign one because they have a fatal illness, and know that they are close to the end. They would rather die a more natural death than be hooked up to machines that will artificially prolong their life for a short time.
This is a very heavy topic, but it is one that you must discuss with your aging loved one. If your aging loved one has a terminal illness, they may be asked about a DNR at the hospital or doctor’s office, so their wishes will be on the record in case something happens. You and your loved one should discuss the topic, and you should listen to what your loved one wants – it is their life, and they should have a say in whether to save it or not. It is important to know their wishes now, when there is still time, so that you will be clear on what they want in case something goes wrong in the future.
In order to come to a decision about DNR, you and your loved one may also want to talk to a doctor, and possibly even a lawyer. The doctor will let you know how effective CPR or other life-saving measures would be for your loved one, and the lawyer can make sure that the hospital adheres to what you and the family want. Then, once the decision is made (whether your loved one decides to sign a DNR or to allow themselves to be resuscitated if needed), let everyone who helps to take care of him or her know, including his or her home care aide. That way, if something happens while you are away, the home care aide or the rest of the family will be able to inform the EMTs or doctors about your loved one’s decision.
Discussing the DNR is important for a senior with a terminal illness or other advanced-stage problems, because you need to know what their wishes are, so that they can live (or die) on their own terms.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in Modesto, CA, contact the caring staff at Provident Home Care. Call today (877) 572-3411.
Robin Conley RN., Owner and CEO of Provident Care Home Care Providing HOME CARE- ASSISTED LIVING PLACEMENT ASSISTANCE
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