Archive for category Death and Dying issues

Hasbro’s Robotic Pet Therapy


Modern technology has produced something very special- a new companion for the elderly who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  It is a Robotic Pet and it acts similar to a live pet, but it never runs away, has to be fed, or must make an expensive trip to the vet!  These pets give these seniors a true companion and would be terrific for any activity program.  The video is short, but very sweet and shows how these pets can make a real difference to your loved one.  You can find these at


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Recently I came across a web-site for Biblical based bereavement support.  The web-site allowed me to type in my zip code and showed a support group in my area, only 15 minutes away.  This is a program for individuals who have lost a loved one (ie, not a pet).  Here is how this program works:

  • All participants go through curriculum based support material.
  • It lasts for 13 weeks.
  • When the 13 week program is over, many participants find that they have made close friends and even choose to attend another program.
  • There is a minimal cost for materials.
  • You can join any time, but are encouraged to start at the beginning of the session, in order to gain the most benefit.
  • The views in this particular program are of the Christ centered community, but people of all faiths have joined and share that they have learned helpful information and tips.
  • Meetings are held at churches or locations such as the public library.

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The DNR Order- What is It?


Many people have advance directives, but they often express general, or vague ideas of how they would like to be cared for when they are unable to speak for themselves, or are in a clear state, or in the process of dying.  One advance directive that is important to consider having, once you are older is the Do-Not-Resuscitate order.  I was able to locate the DNR order for my state- South Carolina on the CDC (Center for Disease Control) website.

Thinking about end of life options is incredibly daunting.  You have to try to consider different circumstances you may or may not be in; far down the road.  Knowing which documents to complete, whether or not you need a lawyer, and who to give copies to, all add to the complexity of the decision making process. Read the rest of this entry »

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Suing A Nursing Home Could Get Easier Under Proposed Federal Rules


Source: Suing A Nursing Home Could Get Easier Under Proposed Federal Rules | Kaiser Health News

This is an article about a woman who wanted to file a claim against a nursing home and her experience.  It can be very difficult to prove the case of abuse and neglect in a long-term care facility without the use of technology (a video camera) because while abuse occurs, falls and other incidents of accidents also occur.  While it can be challenging for a family member to prove abuse, it can be even more so, to prove neglect.

In this article, a case is described where a man with dementia who had a history of wandering was placed in a nursing home, only to die within a month of complications from dehydration.  Is it possible the CNAs didn’t offer him enough to drink?  Yes, this is possible.  But did you know, some dementia patients who pace burn many calories (causing significant weight loss), while at the same time refuse to eat or drink enough to survive?  Many patients with dementia who pace could use the benefit of additional calories through a feeding tube (G-tube), but they are so restless or agitated, that in some cases a G-tube can’t be inserted due the the dementia patient being at high risk for pulling it out.

Monitoring the delivery of good patient care can be challenging.  I would like to hear your thoughts on this issue.

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Suicide in Caucasian Men over 85 years old

Here is a statistic you may not be aware of- according to the CDC, white men over the age of 85 are more likely to commit suicide as compared to Americans in any other age group.  Here is excerpt from the CDC:
In 2013, there were over 41,000 suicides in the United States –an average of 113 each day. Each suicide takes a substantial toll on individuals, families and communities. The medical costs and lost wages associated with suicide are estimated to be $44.6 billion per year. These numbers underestimate the severity of the problem. In the United States, for every one suicide there are 25 attempted suicides. In 2013, over 494,000 people were treated in US emergency departments for self-inflected injuries. In addition, many more people struggle with thoughts of suicide. During 2008– 2009, over 8 million adults reported having suicidal thoughts in the previous year and 2.2 million adults reported having made suicide plans.
The risk for suicidal behavior is complex. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk for suicide but some groups are at higher risk than others. Men are about four times more likely than women to die from suicide. However, women are more likely to express suicidal thoughts and to make nonfatal attempts than men. In the past, suicide was addressed by providing mental health services to people who were already experiencing or showing signs of suicidal thoughts or behavior. While such services are critical, preventing suicide at a national level will require approaches that go beyond mental health issues to address broader family, community, and societal issues.
For more information related to seniors in particular, please see the article below from the Washington Post.

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James Ellison, MD, MPH: Late-life depression – YouTube

Dr. Ellison specializes in geriatric psychiatry.  I thought his video was very informative.

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Lawsuit blames Phoenix VA Medical Center for veteran’s suicide


Lawsuit blames Phoenix VA Medical Center for veteran’s suicide | Fox News.

Do you work in the medical field?  Have you considered the impact bad news can have on a patient?  In this story, a veteran received word from the VA that his cancer had spread to his lungs, and he had only weeks to live.  Very sadly, the man committed suicide.  But, only a day after the suicide, the hospital called and said the diagnosis was wrong and he was not about to die. The wife has a 2.5 million lawsuit.  This is a very real reminder to doctors, nurses, social workers and other health care professionals- please double check such a diagnosis before handing it over to a patient. To those who have cancer and are struggling to have hope- know there is hope and that others love you and care for you.  If you are depressed and feeling hopeless and have a desire to commit suicide, please talk to a friend, pastor or professional counselor about your feelings.

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