A Sidekick's Blog

Soul Searching | October 15, 2013

I ran a lot of medical calls to nursing homes in my fire department days, and cared for my foster dad in his old age, and now my wife and I are caring for her mom. eighty three years old, frail and suffering from advancing dementia. I speak from long experience.

My foster dad was alert and vibrant until the day he died. His physical frailty was no issue. It was a delight to care for him, and he always wanted to be useful, to ¨earn his keep¨ in any way he could, and he did.

But my wife´s mom, and the great majority of those nursing home patients and assisted living residents I served in my fire department days were mentally absent, or mentally impaired, or just crazy, but one thing they all had in common – including my mother-in-law, is that they were absolutely miserable.

Another thing they all had (or have) in common is that they´re on buckets of medications designed to prolong their lives. Blood pressure meds, cholesterol lowering meds, cardiac meds, that sort of thing.

I have thought long and hard about this for years. If a beloved pet was suffering so, we would euthanize it as an act of compassion. But old folks who are out of their minds and suffering terribly get no such consideration, because killing them would be immoral. I feel the same way about withholding food and water from these dear folks. But I don´t feel the same way about these life-extending medications. Would it be so immoral to medicate folks like this only for pain management and comfort rather than artificially extending their lives – and thus their pain (and that of their families in many cases)?

If I ever reach a state of misery and mental incapacity, I want only comfort measures taken in caring for me. No medications aimed at extending life. No blood pressure meds, cardiac meds, no cholesterol-lowering meds or blood thinners, nothing to prevent any natural old-age related illness or event from relieving me and my family of the burden and heartbreak of caring for a helpless madman who has outlived his dignity.  Just ease my breathing, my discomfort, and my pain. When my time comes, don´t let me be held back from my homegoing to Jesus.

What I have just described is already a well-accepted care plan, called Hospice care. But legally, at least in my country, such a care plan requires a terminal diagnosis with a specific expected remaining lifetime. What I am suggesting is that a palliative / comfort-measures-only care plan should be available without regard to life expectancy in cases where there is no hope of a cure and the patient is in profound pain, whether physical or emotional. I´m not suggesting any form of euthanasia or the withholding of food and water! Only to let ¨natural causes¨ proceed naturally.

Does that cross some moral red line? Have I fallen victim to ¨creeping liberalism?¨

Comment is invited and encouraged, but please, don´t tell me that I´m destined to be the next Antichrist for daring to suggest such an immoral thing. Consider it a sincere question deserving kind, biblical, and thoughtful counsel.



  1. Okay so you understand I take a chemical soup every day just so that I don’t “die by natural causes” so my presuppositions are right there in the open. Plus I’m firmly convinced that God gives the talent of “healing” to doctors as part of his common grace so that they can treat diseases such as high blood pressure etc…
    Lastly your not the Antichrist that is the RCC.

    Comment by keachfan — October 16, 2013 @ 2:53 am

    • And as long as you are not suffering, great! I too take blood pressure medication to prevent a disastrous heart attack or stroke. But I think I would STOP taking them if I was in profound, chronic agony from some incurable illness.

      I´m glad you are not in pain, my friend. Me neither – well, not from something incurable anyway, just a rotator cuff torn in three places (long story, hoping to get it repaired pretty soon). And you write a fun blog, too.

      Comment by adoptedsidekick — October 16, 2013 @ 10:57 am

      • Well thanks for the compliment re blog I do try. Sorry to learn about the rotator cuff hope it gets repaired soon. I impacted my shoulder on the bus the other day and thought I had done the same but just some calcium build up was just the issue. Thanks for clarifying what you meant.

        Comment by keachfan — October 16, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

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