You receive a call from a relative saying your 94 year old Aunt B. who lives
in the west, has been rushed to the hospital and is in intensive care.
Earlier in the day she had been having respiratory distress at her home and
her son had transported her to the hospital for treatment. She is not able
to talk and has been trying to pull out the I.V. in her arm.
Aunt B. spent most of her career working with the elders in her community as
a nursing assistant. She has been living alone in her own home for the last
50 years. She has one child a son. Her son has always lived close to her
and visits her regularly. He is now 71 years old and recently diagnosed
with a terminal disease.
In the last 10 years Aunt B.’s health has declined due to a number of issues
including a work related back injury (she had to early retire on
disability), adult diabetes and lately heart issues. Within the last month
the doctor had recommended her getting a pacemaker which Aunt B. has
refused. Now you immediately think about the last telephone conversation
(approximately two weeks ago) you had with Aunt B. She indicated that she
was tired and did not want to go through any further treatment and stated,
“I have had a full life and I am tired and want to die.” She also
indicates she does not have living will nor a health care decisionmaking
power of attorney. After talking with Aunt B. you call her son and he
tells you he thinks his mother should agree to the pacemaker.
Hearing Aunt B. has been rushed to hospital you ask yourself: What should be
done? What can be done?