When Dignity Becomes The Central Theme in Elderly Care

final stages of life What a year and what learning experiences!! The time has come when dignity is the overall theme for both of my parent’s current healthcare. As mentioned in previous posts, my siblings and I have been taking turns (with various tasks) being involved in our parents’ healthcare. This year in particular, has brought clarity to all of us, secondary to the many obvious signs and/or crises, the importance of dignity and their choices/wishes.

The heightened medical involvement is starting to take second seat rather than the front position it has been in the not so distant past. We now have another serious medical crises with one of our parents and the lessons being taught us are priceless. At the PCP (primary care provider) emergent visit a few days ago, the Physician’s final decision was to put my parent in an ambulance for a 2 1/2 hr drive to the hospital of record. This was not my parent’s wish and because of this, the decision was modified accordingly. It was a true reminder for the provider as well as the family members in attendance.

There comes a time when the heroics of medicine has to be downsized and the wishes of the elderly person becomes the number one priority. In our current litigious society, this has become harder and harder for the healthcare society as a whole. We in the healthcare industry are trained in the importance of this phase of life, but the thought of being sued for what is a ‘normal process/transition of life’ lurks over the shoulder of providers. Many times, the elderly patient expresses their wishes/desires to their providers yet the families don’t communicate and/or ask the wishes of their elderly members, then are angry and sue crazy when the person passes on.

I guess its back to that accountability thing. We all have to be responsible and take charge in our family member’s lives. They all cared for us while we grew up and its now our turn to return the favor and love. If you look back over the ages, our elders clearly demonstrated the importance of dignity and their final wishes; their ‘Bucket List’ or whatever you choose to call it. There wasn’t the obsession of prolonging the inevitable by shipping your elderly members off to this specialist and that specialist to fix something unfixable, but the full realization that their lives have been good and they’re ready to move on.

This phase is a hard one but one that teaches us phenomenal lessons. Instead of spending time busily fussing over them, it’s rather time to calm down, exercise patience and just communicate with our precious member (s) and listen to their wise words. Time to reminisce about all the great memories if they so choose or merely sharing of prayers; any efforts that bring them peace and well-earned rest. They’ve made their mark in time and have earned the right to be treated with respect and dignity. God bless them all!!!



  1. Sharon's Miller says:

    Oh so very well said wise lady! The thick and thin of challenges with aging can be awesome if, as you said, we but listen to our loved ones and in doing so, slow ourselves down too! Yours is indeed a blessed family! Thanks for sharing all your experience and your on-going journey with your parents. Not much doubt that they raised some wonderful children.

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