Within the past three weeks, I have helped two of my loved ones complete our state’s DNR form (Do Not Resuscitate). First it was my brother; next, my mother.
Mom’s mental clarity has been marginal (at best) these days. This morning she needed help completing the various steps within any task. For instance, when we brush our teeth, it’s all just one task. We don’t usually have to think about the process. We just do it. For the individual with Alzheimer’s, the decision to brush one’s teeth involves at least five steps:
- Get out of the chair (She can get distracted in the process.)
- “Where’s my toothbrush?” (It’s in the cup next to the sink in the bathroom, Mom.)
- “Where’s the bathroom?” (Escort Mom to the bathroom 15 feet away.)
- “Now, why am I in here?” (To brush your teeth, Mom.)
- “Is this my toothpaste?” (I help her open the tube and squirt a little on her brush.)
I let her brush her own teeth, but I can see that she will need my help with this task sooner than later.
With all of the help she needed this morning, I was so very thankful she was thinking rather clearly when it came time to talk about her signing the DNR order. When her physician asked if she understood, Mom replied, “Yes, I’m 83. My mind and body aren’t working so well anymore. I’ve lived long enough. When it’s my time to meet Jesus, it’s my time.”
Walking out of the door with a printed DNR bracelet on her wrist was harder for me than it was for Momma. But it was even more difficult when I helped walk my younger brother through that decision three weeks ago.
The VA doctor explained the form and asked Brad if he wanted to make that decision yet. He had actually made the decision previously, but was not yet wearing the DNR bracelet which would with one glance tell any emergency response team what his wishes were related to the matter of resuscitation should his heart stop. Brad said, “What do you think, Cin? I figure that when it’s time to go to heaven, it’s my time.”
With tears playing at the corners of my eyes, I nodded my head in agreement. Brad signed the form, and his doctor ordered the bracelet.
It’s kind of sad having to make this decision – especially for someone so young. But it is something that is so very important to discuss with your loved ones before the decision needs to be made. Long before that time.