Of the many decisions involved in adult caregiving, contemplating what to do about life support is often one of the hardest.
Tangled in the myriad emotions involved are questions about the needs of your elderly parent on life support, their potential to recovery, their wishes, your sacrifice and feelings about the situation and ultimately what society has deemed the “right thing to do”. It might be best, since decisions like these are emotional ones, to think about it in a logical way.
What are their chances of recovery?
One of the quintessential questions here that must be resolved surrounds their chances of recovery. Sitting down and having a substantial conversation with your parents doctor can clarify exactly where your Mom or Dad stands in terms of recovery. What quality of life can be afforded to them if they are on multiple forms of life support? What else can be expected? Bed sores? More trauma to the body? The guilt associated with taking elderly parents off life support lies in disregarding their potential to recover; if there is a slim to none chance of recovery, the question then becomes an analysis of selfishness.
Are you being selfish?
The ultimate question becomes is who really benefits from keeping your parent on life support if they don’t stand to benefit? If your parent has slight chances of recovery, is maintaining their limited function an extension of your need or theirs? Did they leave final wishes and are you regarding them? Knowing your parents, would they consider this living with dignity?
Things to Remember
Is it important to remember, in the midst of all these questions, that whatever decision you make will be the right decision. In letting go, your parent will complete a course of action that is already underway. In maintaining their bodies, you keep alive a substantial aspect of who your parent is.