Submitted Story - My parents never wanted their lives prolonged

  • October 20, 2015

My parents were always very open about the fact that they never wanted their lives prolonged. They believed they had lived a good life, they had travelled extensively and always been very active and so they asked for my assurance that I would support their decision and not allow any medical intervention, when their end was near.

Three years ago I learnt my mother had dementia. My father had hid the severity of this from family for a few years and had looked after her until he was no longer getting any sleep and as a 87 year old, was physically exhausted. My mum no longer recognised him or any family but alongside this, her form of dementia meant that she was extremely agitated, depressed, angry and violent. So she went into fulltime care.

Every week we would get phone calls because she was either being violent towards other people in the home or she was having falls. We were told that probably what would happen is that eventually she would have a fall that would kill her. My father found this very distressing. He had been married for 40 years and his wife that he loved dearly was now angry and aggressive to him and no longer knew him. He found it very difficult to visit her and then, if he didn’t, he was filled with intense guilt. And so he took himself to bed, stopped eating and in effect committed suicide and I lost a wonderful man from my life.

But my mother still lives – well to be fair, “lives” only in that her heart beats. She broke her hip badly from a fall a year ago, which means she is bed ridden and so she no longer abuses other residents. But she has no visitors as her anger and agitation is too distressing and alongside this visitors make it worse which makes it even harder for staff to manage her.

I know my mother would be distraught to know that she was being kept alive (she can not feed herself and so is fed by staff). I know she would also be distraught to think how much tax payer money is spent every month, keeping her alive, when she has no quality of life, no life. And so, because I lost the wrong parent, I strongly support this Bill.