The following comes from a July 20 op-ed piece by Joseph Curl in the Washington Times.
Everyone I’ve met during my two-plus months in Florida has been touched by dementia. Not a few people, or nearly everyone, but — Every. Single. Person.
A cleaning lady that helped me get my parents’ home ready for sale said her father had dementia, like my mother. “Does your mom scream at night?” she asked me. “No, but she sees things, hallucinations,” I said. “Oh,” she said, “that’s not so bad. My dad was a screamer, all night every night.”
The tile repairman who fixed up the front walkway said his mother went into the darkness early, just in her 60s. She didn’t recognize her children, forgot to go to the bathroom, would sit motionless for hours looking off into space. She lived 12 years like that, he said, pain clear in his voice. “We all wished she had gone sooner.”
The guy putting new carpet into the beautiful house on a bayou on Longboat Key said his grandfather had dementia too. He got necrotizing fasciitis, flesh-eating disease, when he was in hospice. “You know hospice, that stuff happens,” he said. “He was just getting eaten alive, his foot turned into a black little stump that looked like ” I’ll spare you the details.
He said he and other family members asked the hospice whether they could do something to put him out of his misery. Not long after, his dad died. “They handled it. I know they handled it.”
I remember when my children were little, like 12 and 10, I once thought how sad it would be when they grew up, moved off to college, left home — and never called enough. But then something happened — they became teenagers. When they were 17 and 15, I remember thinking — “When will these two ever leave?!”
That’s the whole point of the teenage years: Your children break from you, want to forge out, but you also learn to let them go — and eventually even want them to go. And that’s, to me, what dementia is, or Alzheimer’s, or any of the mind-destroying maladies that beset our parents and grandparents in their old age.
I realized only recently that that’s the same as the teenager thing: We’re not prepared to let our parents go, or even to force them to go, but then dementia happens. Only then do you realize that you’d really prefer that you’re mother or grandfather simply pass away, slip into that eternal peace. Simply said, you yearn for them to die.
In the beginning of my mother’s descent into dementia, I tweeted a thought: We so love our pets that we cannot bear for them to be in pain, so when they are near to death, we put them “to sleep.” We do it out of love.
A few agreed with me, but many more did not. They pushed “the culture of life,” said that no one was able to judge when best to put an elderly person out of their misery, that allowing anyone to decide that for another person would be rife with abuse. One said an angry child might decide to do away with a parent out of spite.
Perhaps. It’s a tough subject. But many more people — most probably — would choose to ease their loved one into the next world with love. The family would wrestle with the dilemma, discuss for days or weeks among themselves weighing the pros and cons, before they’d make that most final decision. After, some would feel relief, others guilt and shame. It is, after all, a life-or-death decision.
I’ve always told my children that suicide is silly — we’re already dying at lightning speed. Just wait, before you know it, poof, out goes the candle. But some die very slowly: My grandmother had dementia, that same that beset my 79-year-old mother, and lived 13 years — 13. She didn’t know her family, who eventually stopped visiting. It was all just too sad.
Of course, everyone will die eventually. “On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero,” as the saying goes. And no doubt the question is among the weightiest anyone will ever ponder, especially if they believe in a higher being. More, no one can really know what they’d do until they are in that situation, when all the philosophical musings are made real.
But Man can control death. We can decide to die, when and how, if we so choose. With tens of millions of Baby Boomers moving to old age, this is about to become a major political issue. Just read 2030, a dystopian novel about what to do with “the olds” after cancer is cured and people live to be 150.
To read the original article, click here.
This man doesn’t want any one around who is not able to function normally, is no longer productive, or is ill. Does he also think that a baby that is not perfect should be aborted? Should people who are slow learners be eliminated? Is this man perfect? Does he think he is God?
“Mercy killing”, Assisted Suicide” are euthanasia.
CCC: ” 2277 Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.
Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator.
The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.”
CCC: ” 2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted.
The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable.
Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.”
EUTHANASIA is one of the Intrinsic Evils.
“Death with dignity” is another code for euthanasia.
The 2014 California State Democratic Platform includes death with dignity.
Why are the Bishops pointing this out? And that Catholics may not vote for politicians who support intrinsic evils.
Palliative care, also referred to as “the Third Path” to signing up for eventual suicide should be viewed with extreme caution. Palliative care proponents and the hospices that promote this, especially the idea of no curative medications whatsoever, are not disinterested parties to a planned death. Many facilities, especially for profit facilities, claiming to be Hospices are promoters of assisted suicide. Make sure when you sign a form, especially a bright pink POLST form, that you are not signing up for approval of no curative or artificially supplied medicine whatsoever (meaning through a tube instead of orally). Food and water are often considered artifical means of conveying nutrition and hydration. This means that one dies from dehydration or starvation or both, rather than from a disease or organ failure.
Thank you for the warning! Last time my mom was in the hospital (3 years ago, at age 94) some staff (the woman doctor heading their palliative care dept. and her head nurse/assistant) did a full court press on us caretakers trying to get us to sign her up for palliative care (we take care of her at home). We refused until we could consult with her own physician, a doctor who has known her and treated her almost all of his medical career. They were really furious at our refusal and even sort of implied we were taking on more than we could handle. Ha!
Once we talked to her doctor, I could tell he really didn’t want to say anything bad about the palliative care stuff, but he sort of said, well, they’re all worried about Medicare re-admissions penalties and are promoting palliative care to prevent re-admissions, but you guys feel pretty confident about taking care of her, right? We said yes, and that was that. No palliative care.
I am suspicious of this, as well as of hospice, where I know they basically hasten the death of the elderly by upping the dosage of morphine until the dose where the person dies. I suspect they know perfectly well when that will come. And anyone with half a brain watching it happen will know too. I suspect the palliative care arm of this is keeping a close eye on the elderly person until it looks like a good time to call in hospice, because it’s “hopeless.”
So thank you for posting this. I pray God will grant my mother a peaceful natural death without drugs or anything to hasten her demise.
Bee, your story eloquently unravels any mystery remaining in the “affordable care act”! My your dear mother enjoy many more blessed years with you and your family. God bless you for choosing life.
Camille, the POLST form is dangerous as well. Most pro-life advocates warn against it. God Bless.
“Mercy” killing is murder!
This man does not have a relationship with God or else he would understand the commandment “thou shall not kill”. Its this kind of narcissistic mind frame that makes this world worst. Pray for him. No one is better than him but for some reason God took mercy on some of us and we get our Lord’s commandments.
His whole article was depressing. He sounds hopeless and what little faith he has, he has not put into practice. How many people take the time to write something and actually write something inspirational, uplifting, filed with hope but instead this man just wanted to vent and express his downfall, that is if he continues to embrace them. If he feels miserable, he should go see a psychiatrist and vent. Not write a piece to feed others with the same hopelessness and bitterness. He also seems like he doesn’t want to be inconvenienced by the elders in his life who had dementia. Well guess what? What causes dementia? Could it be all those drugs that doctors are feeding our elders today? Or the environment? How come dementia is in higher numbers today than in the past? What we need to do is cling on our Lord for help and look for alternative cures, real solutions. And most important respect life and honor God.
Pray for this man, he sounds bitter. Pray that someone close to him, who really cares and will not give on him, to have a real dialogue with him and help guide him. Someone with faith enough even as small as a mustard seed to help this poor soul, who feels hopeless. God have mercy on us all.
The apparent increase in dementia is probably just an artifact of the increase in life span in the First World. We’ve cured the diseases that once kept us from reaching the ages at which that particular disorder can kick in (and should we ever cure it, who knows what disease awaits us next?) The human body is not designed to live forever, and if one organ doesn’t falter first, then another will. The solution is the same as always: let the doctor do what he reasonably can, and prepare for a good death in the Lord.
Could be that you be right Tom Byrne. I agree with you if you have a good doctor of course. I feel that it is our responsibility to look after our parents and make sure that they get good and honorable care. We must research all the med’s that they are taking to make sure it is really necessary and that they are not being drugged up. So yes you are correct, if one has a good pro-life doctor, then you are absolutely right, we must be reasonable.
Before my dad’s death, his doctors put him on many drugs, many unnecessary drugs. We didn’t know, we trusted them. He was pronounced as having mild dementia, then my uncle, the doctor, an excellent doctor from Stanton Island, came to visit and found that half of the drugs given to my dad were not necessary. He took him off of them and bingo my dad no longer had dementia. Wow. That helped prolonged his life a little longer and it was of better quality. We then realized too that Hospice was trying to kill my dad too with other drugs. We took him off of hospice and then he lived another year and a half before the good Lord took him naturally.
PS look up the Old testament, mankind lived longer….they lived in the hundreds. Pretty neat O. = )
Abecca: I just lost my mom in April of this year. It hurts so bad to see her die the way she did. I cry every day because of this. I can never explain to you the circumstances in her death here on CalCath for the story would be too long. What I can tell people here is to stay FAR away from hospice!!! Morphine is the drug of their choice. My mother was eating and drinking, but the minute they gave her morphine, it was all over. She could no longer stay awake to eat or drink.The eating and drinking stopped. She was a skeleton! People, please! Look further into hospice. Be afraid! Be very afraid! I hear hospice supporters feet stomping behind me ready to attack me for saying this, but it is the truth. I wish ALL of my family members knew what me and a few other family members knew about hospice. My mother’s death could have been made much more comfortable without morphine. We tried to tell them, but they were deceived by hospice and I am haunted every day by the way my mother passed. People, check into hospice. Don’t put your loved ones in their care. Read up!
Thank you, RR, and, Abeca, for your experiential insights. And I’m sorry for your loss, RR. I’ve heard about hospice through the family grapevine and always had reservations about assurances of loving care. It’s good to have my reservations confirmed.
The patient, closest family members, or a named person with official power of attorney for the patient determines health care.
Just like working with a doctor, the legally responsible person can tell hospice what to do and what not to do according to the patient’s religious beliefs.
See: CCC #2324, 2277, and 2279 regarding palliative care.
RR, I’m so sorry about your mom and know what sorrow you’re experiencing. It took years to get over my mom’s death and the way she died. Fortunately, we were able to comfort her with her favorite hymns etc. before she was completely sedated. I have no way of knowing if she would have been better off unsedated as she was in agony.
Whatever you do, do not blame yourself, as you did the best you could. My mother died at home and the nuns who came to our house were so kind and helpful. We felt at the time that the drugs given during the last week saved her unspeakable pain. Somehow, though, hospice has a way of making death seem unreal…rather like the ‘cleaned-up’ deaths in ‘Soylent Green” where music and lovely pictures accompanied the spiffy,guilt free sendoff. It certainly is something we should all think about. Thank you for your sharing. God bless you and your family RR.
RR I am so sorry for your loss. I will be praying for you and your family during this time. My heart is with you and your family. God bless your mum, may she rest in peace, IN Jesus name we pray.
MEGAN, here in California, when we first tried telling Hospice what to do, they were very nasty with us, even almost called us selfish for removing some of the unnecessary drugs. They had him in some psychiatric drugs and hardcore pain killers. The proof was in the pudding, when those drugs where removed, at my uncles orders, and when we removed him from Hospice, he showed improvement and we were able to enjoy family meals and quality time with him. God showed us so much mercy that we during those hard several years of up and down moments of watching his health go, we had about 5 different priests visit him, anoint him, give him the sacraments, confession etc. It was a very stressful time when we were dealing with trying to make sure he was being treated well and respectfully. I feel for RR, I can feel her pain. While our loved ones suffer, the caregivers also need some TLC and encouragement.
Also Hospice is good only when they respect your wishes, when the person is really dying, they can help with especially if a loved one wants to die at home. When my aunt passed, we had a different set of hospice experience, the people that came were more respectful and never forced my aunt to take drugs. All this is bringing back hard memories because I miss my loved ones but I can say is that caring for them and making them comfortable during their months here on earth, was humbling and it helped us all increase in virtues, to remove any selfish bone out of our bodies, just to care and give all our time is a blessing. I can see why Mother Theresa grew more and more virtuous, she cares for the poor and sick. She devoted all her life bringing Jesus love to the less fortunate. We are all going to be there one day, we pray that our children will learn from our great example too.
I want to thank all who responded to me about my mother. I appreciate you thinking of me and the prayers for her. I want to say that my mother was in pain and did need pain killers. What I objected to was the amount and how often they gave her morphine. I believe they hastened her death by giving her more than she actually needed. This is euthanasia and against the Catholic Church’s teachings. My oldest brother was power of attorney and I tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t look in to it. He trusted them(hospice). I, and a few others in the family, didn’t. Much family drama unfolded in this horrible time. My mother had a lot of heart issues, diabetic issues, circulation….which led to us having to have her leg amputated and she developed gangrene. The wound was hideous and we all knew she wasn’t going to make it. It wouldn’t heal. We all knew she wouldn’t make it, but I and others in the family think she was overdosed and her death was hastened by morphine. I can’t get the image out of my head of what she looked like because I feel she was starved and dehydrated to death. I know I did all I could do because I was not the power of attorney, but the image will never go away of what she looked like when she went from eating and drinking one day to dead a week later. Please, if you decide on hospice, make sure you are up on things and seeing how much meds are being given. Watch your loved ones. Be aware!
Ann Malley: You made me cry, in a very good way. Obviously, you were given the gift of words. I had never thought of my mother’s passing the way you expressed it so lovingly. I have already experienced her intervention since her passing. She has already helped me in many ways. I really do feel her! I truly believe God has given me consolations as far as my mother. I know she is being rewarded for standing strong in her faith and the thought of her actually seeing the Beatific vision and the Blessed Mother truly gives me comfort!
RR, thank God for the grace of our comforting one another. Goodness knows your posts inspire me. That said, honor your mother’s suffering… and your own. Use each pang to gain souls for Christ. Like Our Lady.
The Hospice Patient’s Alliance https://www.hospicepatients.org/, was started by Ron Panzer because he was very concerned about what he saw in the “for profit” hospices. This an advocacy organization adhering to Catholic principles.
Another helpful organization is the Patient Rights Council. https://www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/ Knowledge is our best defense. Doctors and/or witch doctors hold a lot of power in any society. When they become ungodly and part of the world, they become most dangerous. Medical science is good, but medical science in the wrong hands becomes the worst kind of tyrannical power.
Thank you Tracy for the information. You are right knowledge is best in the defense, it empowers God’s people.
continued: Although I wasn’t able to do much about the hospice situation, I did, however, have much to say about her spiritual care. I, as well as a couple of my other sisters, made sure my mother had the traditional sacraments of Extreme Unction, Confession, and was able to get her Holy Communion many times before she was out of it. She died wearing the Brown Scapular and having made the First Fridays and First Saturdays countless times during her life. She was given a fully traditional funeral Mass and burial. This is the reason I can somewhat move on, knowing she is probably in heaven right now. I will continue to pray for her until the day I die in case she is still in purgatory. If she is in Heaven right now, these prayers will not go unanswered. I trust God, Blessed Mother, and my mom to give them to others who need prayers.
God bless you and your sisters for providing so wisely for your dear mother’s spiritual needs. What a grace and a blessing. I’ve no doubt your suffering added to that of your mother was/is very fruitful. Thank you for sharing, RR, your story and your strong testament of Faith and endurance.
God bless you RR, you are a good daughter. I appreciate that in you. I kept you in my prayers today, in the depth of my heart. What a good soul you are. Thank you for trusting us enough to share this with us. You did good honor to your mum. God bless you for keeping His commandments and all the love that you pour forth for and in Him. Our Beloved Jesus!
Thank you for being a lovely soul, a sweet inspiration. I pray that the author of this article will come across these comments and be moved by your love in Jesus for the salvation of your loved ones.
Reflection John 17
Ann, Abeca, and Dana: Thank you so much for the kind words. It has been very difficult since the passing of my mother. We were so close. I would not have the faith I have if it wasn’t for her. She had a very strong faith and always put her trust in God. She told me on my wedding day to always go to the Blessed Mother whenever I needed help. I have always done that. A big piece of my heart is gone. I just keep telling myself that she is with God and His Blessed Mother now for eternity and some day we will all be together again in Heaven! God Bless you!
RR, you write, “…a big piece of my heart is gone.”
Please try, RR, to see your mother in the same way that the Apostles and Our Lady needed to see Christ after His crucifixion and death. (It is a crucifixion of the flesh, to be sure.) Yes, the pain is acute, debilitating, but if you fix your heart on the reality of your mother’s deep and abiding Faith, knowing she is truly united with you in Christ, then you will come to peace in the knowledge that she is closer to you now than ever before. (Think of Christ saying to the Apostles that it was good for Him to go. Your mother can intercede for you now as never before, RR. Suffer the Faith and believe this is so.)
Cling to that, RR, as your mother no doubt would take that as the ultimate fruition of her having passed the Faith, full and entire, to you, the fruit of her womb. What a gem in in her crown. What true joy to behold for her. (I cannot imagine how proud and pleased she was at the spiritual care provided by you and your sisters, even during the heights of suffering.)
Go to Our Lady, yes, but remember that even though many portray Her as weeping and fainting and bereft, Our Lady is as terrible as an army in battle array, specifically because she understands the reality of Faith and that it is TRUE, every last word, every last promise. What strength and grace there is to be had in running to Our dear Mother.
God bless and thanks again for writing!
Here is evil once again trying to play God. Yes, we all will die…..in God’s time. It may be quick or it may be sloooowwww……but everything is for a reason that God only knows why. We must accept our life with all it’s suffering and we must accept our death with all it’s suffering (those who do not follow God, will certaintly have a tougher time with the suffering). The greater good that comes from any of this is in God’s plan for each of us. We are here on earth for only a short time–hopefully choosing to do God’s will in our lives. When we die from this world (earth) we face eternal good (heaven or purgatory) or eternal evil (hell)……how we live each minute is how we choose to end up. Those who try and “cheat” death in this world by “mercy killing” will pay gravely for this sin in the next. There is only one God the Father the creator of all. Praise and Glory to Our Lord.
As Mother Angelica would say, “such mis-guided compassion”. Isn’t that the truth in today’s world? So many feel that they are so “compassionate” when they push the evils of the devil, like Euthanasia (mercy killing), Abortion (killing of the preborn—-especially if the baby is inconvienent, not perfect, because of rape, etc), same sex marriage, cohabitation, “quality of life issues”, divorce (I deserve to be happy) blah, blah, blah, ……..mis-guided all.
Thank you SandraD. Very true! “Misguided compassion’…that”s really what the issue is.
The Washington Time is owned and its content is controlled by the Unification Church. Why do people support this cult?
This man does not know God, nor Love! There are some nursing staff, who have a vocation, to work with only sick elderly patients, and hospice patients— and love it! What is wrong, is the non-acceptance of the sick and abnormal, in American life! America focuses only on materialism, selfishness, youth fashions, comfort, and a shallow, linear, “logical,” narrow way of thinking! Once, when young, I gave respite care for an Italian Catholic neighbor lady, one day a week, who had dementia. She had previously been very active in the Church and many local charities, raised six successful children who all went to Catholic school, and had been a good Catholic mother and homemaker! She would do odd things at times, due to her dementia. She also screamed and threw things at the nuns, when transferred to a Church-run nursing facility, for her final months. But this lady, as well as all life— deserved all the love, respect, patience, and care, that could possibly be given! We all deserves this! And let God “make His own sense” out of what is happening!
When young, I once volunteered with some friends, to work one day a week, with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. Boy that was rough, at times! But a very spiritually-enriching experience! Some of these friends joined Mother Teresa’s lay religious order. Mother Teresa did not see the world as secular, godless Americans do. She saw the world through the loving and wise eyes of Christ! And her perspective is the correct one! That perspective is the one we all must live by! It is God’s perspective– not ours!
Thanks for sharing with us Linda Maria, God bless you. I agree with your observations and comments. Very true and lovely.
How sad to see suffering go to waste. It could be used for the conversion of sinners, release of A sinner from purgatory, or just
showing your love for God by uniting your suffering to His on the cross. many spiritual benefits can be accrued from suffering.
With intention it can also be used for
the forgiveness of Ones own sins, for the Salvation of the Soul of the sick person,
and/or the Salvation of the Souls of all the sick person’s loved ones.
The sick person must have the intent.
1. Why are so many people at younger and younger ages developing dementia? (I’ve heard or known of people in their 40s and 50s with it.)
2. Those with dementia live in the moment: “they don’t know what they don’t know.” While it’s painful for us who do, it is NOT painful for those with dementia. I don’t know about you, but living in the moment sounds pretty good to me. No hand wringing on what we should or shouldn’t have done and no worrying about what the future holds. What a blessing in disguise!
3. As someone mentioned in another post, “what a waste of suffering”, but not on the part of the persons with dementia, but the family members who care for them. Sadly, suffering is now something to be avoided at all costs.
“My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55.8-9)
These people who seek to “end” the lives and sufferings of others, should be removed from society and placed on a deserted island where they can do no harm to those that they purport to love.
I am so sorry for anyone who has lost a loved one, and the situation involved terrible medical care! God bless you! In April, right before Good Friday, my 89-year-old dad went to Hospice care! He died on the eve of the Feast of Divine Mercy, and the eve also, of the double canonizations of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II!! Many nuns and priests had him and our family, in their prayers, for which we are all so very thankful! My dad was given the best and kindest medical care I have ever seen! This hospice is located in a smaller town in the Southwestern part of the country– and is small, quiet, beautiful, very friendly, and looked as pretty and as peaceful, as a retreat center! Many of the nursing staff were Hispanic, and were very warm, loving, and nurturing, and many were also very religious! The chaplain, a Franciscan priest, was also excellent in his vocation, to assist the sick and dying! We were very fortunate!
God bless you Linda Maria. Thank you for sharing this lovely note about your papa. Our prayers are with you as well.