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I don't know if this is the right place to put this but please forgive me if it is not.

 

My elderly mother lives in California.  I will try to make this as short as I can. I apologize in advance for the length.

 

She has always had a particular flair for the melodramatic, a never ending need to be the constant center of attention, and an uncanny ability to charm or persuade just about anybody into believing just about anything.  These things have been true of her for her whole life.

 

It is that last skill that I am worried about.

 

Her only real health issue right now is that she does not want to have to start using a wheelchair due to arthritis.  She refuses to take pain medication or prescribed antidepressants or use a wheelchair, and then complains that she can't stand the pain of trying to walk.  She's one of those people who says they'd rather die than be seen in a wheelchair, and apparently she means it.

 

Well, so now she is planning on making that happen..  She sent me and 3 other people an e-mail saying that she has made a decision to end her life on her own terms "within the next few months" and she hopes we'll all come and be there with her for this momentous event.  She also asked us not to tell anyone else. 

 

Not only do I not want to be there for it, I don't want to have anything to do with it, because I am opposed to it, and I don't think she is even eligible.  She is NOT TERMINALLY ILL.  She IS terminally self-centered and manipulative and stubborn, but she is NOT terminally ill.  (I'm sorry if this doesn't sound like I am a very loving child;  I am just really angry about this stunt right now.  But I digress.)

 

My concern is that she does have a doctor who hates to say no to her.  She charms him like she charms everyone else and he pretty much just goes along with her.

 

QUESTION 1:  As the eldest child with her Health Care Power of Attorney in the event that she is incapacitated, do I have any standing to say, "No, I am opposed to this at this time. Don't do it."  (If she really were terminally ill I think I would reluctantly try to respect her wishes, but again, she is NOT TERMINALLY ILL, at least not at this time.) 

 

What I want to do is let her doctor know that if he even THINKS about signing that form certifying that she is terminally ill (let alone helping her find another doctor who will go along with it for the 2nd signature) I am going to sue the living daylights out of him for malpractice and wrongful death and better yet, hopefully have him arrested.  She is NOT TERMINALLY ILL (unless you count age, itself as a "terminal illness" which SHE DOES, but I went and read the California statute and it looks to me like it explicitly says that neither age nor disability alone qualifies a person as being "terminally ill" for purposes of that statute.)

 

The thing I'm worried about is that she is (and always has been) such an expert at being charming and manipulative -- I'm afraid she'll charm or manipulate some doctor or another into going along with it and giving her the death drug before I can do anything to prevent it.

 

QUESTION 2: What can I actually do, if anything, to prevent this from happening?

 

We have argued about this before, and her view (which I'm sure she will try to charm her own doctor into believing) is that I am heartless and cruel and "just don't understand."

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38 minutes ago, FormerLegalSecy said:

I don't know if this is the right place to put this but please forgive me if it is not.

 

It's as good a place as any and, as you know, we all read all the forums anyway.

 

You should thoroughly and carefully read the statute. The provisions may allay your concerns.

 

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=HSC&division=1.&title=&part=1.85.&chapter=&article=

 

There are some serious checks and balances in the statute, not the least of which is the definition of "terminal disease."
 

Quote

 

 

 

 “Terminal disease” means an incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will, within reasonable medical judgment, result in death within six months.

 

 

 

There is also some serious (even draconian) paperwork involved for both patient and doctor. Given those requirements I don't see your mother succeeding in charming any doctor into going through that process to the point of actually providing the drug.

 

On to your questions. This answers both.

 

If she becomes mentally incompetent (dementia, alzheimer's, etc) that's a whole nother issue. But if she actually does some day become terminally ill and is still mentally competent, you won't be able to prevent it. Nor will you be able to sue any doctor that properly provides the drug.

 

Unfortunately, even without being able to get the drug if she is seriously determined to commit suicide, there are a lot of ways she can do it.

 

However, I tend to treat

 

38 minutes ago, FormerLegalSecy said:

I have made a decision to end my life on my own terms within the next few months

 

The same way I would treat

 

"I have made a decision to quit smoking on my own terms within the next few months."

 

With a considerable amount of skepticism.

 

 

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Thank you A.J.  I hope you know I appreciate your perspective.

 

I think you're probably right about the appropriate amount of skepticism.  I think I just need to take a step back and a couple of deep breaths.

 

I did read the statute and I don't think she qualifies.  On the other hand she doesn't need to persuade every Dr. in California of her point of view.  Only 2 of them.

 

But hopefully not this time.

 

Thanks.

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42 minutes ago, FormerLegalSecy said:

  On the other hand she doesn't need to persuade every Dr. in California of her point of view.  Only 2 of them.

 

That's not the way it works. There has to be medical evidence of a terminal disease. Doctors have to dot a lot of i's and cross a lot of t's. If they don't get it right they could lose there immunity and end up unlicensed and in jail. That should be scary enough to keep a doctor from being manipulated by his patient no matter how good the patient is at it.

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7 hours ago, FormerLegalSecy said:

QUESTION 1:  As the eldest child with her Health Care Power of Attorney in the event that she is incapacitated, do I have any standing to say, "No, I am opposed to this at this time. Don't do it."  (If she really were terminally ill I think I would reluctantly try to respect her wishes, but again, she is NOT TERMINALLY ILL, at least not at this time.)

 

Well, the answer to this is pretty much the same as the one I gave you back in September 2018 when you first posted about your mother and assisted suicide.  But I'll paste it here so you don't have to go back to that other one.

 

Well, your mother is free to commit suicide if she wants and is capable of doing it on her own (assuming she doesn't get committed for psychiatric help before she succeeds) but she won't get a doctor to assist her in it over a complaint that she just doesn't want to live life having to use a walker or cane. Seven states and DC allow for physician assisted suicide, and all of them place significant limitations on it. For one thing, all of those jurisdictions (last I checked anyway) required that at least one physician attest that the patient has 6 months or less left to live. So these are very much laws about ending suffering for a patient who is about to die soon anyway. These are not laws that allow reasonably healthy people a way to get help to commit suicide. No doctor is going to assist a woman who is not terminally ill in ending her life, especially for minor complaints like not wanting to use a walker or cane. Rather, they would be inclined to refer her for mental health treatment since a desire to die in that circumstance likely indicates a mental issue of some kind, perhaps severe depression. 

 

Assuming though that your mother is mentally competent, her health decisions are hers to make. You cannot take some legal action to override her decisions regarding her own care while she is competent. So if the law did allow her to get assisted suicide in this circumstance, that would be up to her. As hard as it can be to see close family or friends make decisions about their care that you think are terrible choices, they have the right to make those choices themselves. Just as you have the right to make the decisions for your care without others intruding and imposing their values and choices on you. 

 

And I'll add the following: having a health care power of attorney allows you to make decisions for her if she is unable or unwilling to decide the matter herself. But so long as she is legally competent you cannot override her express wishes. You are her agent and in that role you act at her direction. If you don't want to do something she wants to do, you don't have to go along, but you cannot act contrary to her stated wishes.

 

This time you gave a state. California's law does not allow the physician to actually participate in the the suicide. It allows the physician, if all the requirements of the law are met, to prescribe a life ending drug to the patient. The patient then must take the drug on her own. She must have a terminal disease. And while her doctor may be pretty willing to do things she'd like him to do, he'd be a fool to attest she has a terminal disease when she doesn't. He'd face loss of his license at a minimum. And might end up in prison and facing civil liability.

 

And note further that a trial court in California has held that the law allowing this assisted suicide was not properly adopted and thus is in violation of the California Constitution. And appeal in that case tossed the appeal because the court said the appealing party lacked standing, and thus did not reach the constitutional issue. So far as I can see, no other appellate decisions have been made on this issue. So as it stands now, there is doubt as to even whether this law is any good.

 

7 hours ago, FormerLegalSecy said:

 

QUESTION 2: What can I actually do, if anything, to prevent this from happening?

 

We have argued about this before, and her view (which I'm sure she will try to charm her own doctor into believing) is that I am heartless and cruel and "just don't understand."

 

Assuming your mother is mentally competent there is no legal action you can take to stop her from doing it, assuming she can even get the necessary certifications from doctors about having a terminal illness. You may try persuading her not to do it. But in the end, it is her choice what to do with her life; you don't get to dictate to her how this goes.

 

If she's not competent, go to court to get her declared incompetent and be appointed her guardian. Then you get to decide and the matter then is out of her hands.

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I am sorry to be repeating myself.  As you can imagine it is very difficult to be kind of, but not really, responsible for somebody who keeps threatening to commit suicide.  This time was different because she actually sent a letter to several people detailing how she was going to do it, which she hadn't done before.  I do thank you for your response(s) both then and now and I will not post about this topic again.

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8 hours ago, FormerLegalSecy said:

I am sorry to be repeating myself.  As you can imagine it is very difficult to be kind of, but not really, responsible for somebody who keeps threatening to commit suicide.  This time was different because she actually sent a letter to several people detailing how she was going to do it, which she hadn't done before.  I do thank you for your response(s) both then and now and I will not post about this topic again.

 

Feel free to post about it again if you need. I wasn't complaining about the earlier post, just using that for reference for the new. If you need to post again just add the new one to this one if the thread allows it, or link to it, to provide the extra background on it. I realize that the fact she sent out the letter adds to the urgency of it. Unfortunately, though, distressing as that is, there isn't much you can do about. It's tough having to be on the sidelines and not being able to run in and stop it, but if she's mentally competent she gets to decide how her life goes. Her issues may have more to do with something else other than just the mobility issues. Does she have friends she can socialize with? Does she have activities she can enjoy doing? Does she have something that gives her a purpose or focus in life? Older folks can start to feel their lives have no more meaning and get depressed if they don't have reasons to keep going; some purpose that keeps them fulfilled. Maybe if you can help her find that focus or purpose she wouldn't be instead focusing on her limitations.

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Thanks TC & AJ.  Yes, she lives in a "mildly" religious community (I say "mildly" because people of all faiths actually live there) for people 55+.  It is a continuous care community that she chose, and she decided on her own when she wanted to move in.  She lives in the independent living portion of the community in her own apartment although she does have a cleaning person who comes in once/week to help with heavier cleaning chores.  She has a flower garden and a vegetable garden and is the Head of the Film committee that selects & shows movies in the community theater every weekend.  The thing is it is hard and painful (and dangerous) for her to try to walk very far due to her arthritis and it would be MUCH safer and easier for her to use a wheelchair or at least a cane (she goes totally ballistic if anyone dares to suggest a walker).  But she keeps saying she'd rather die than be seen using any of those "old people" devices (or move into an assisted living apartment in the same community where she already lives) because in her mind those things would  "prove" that she is "crippled" and (according to her) "useless."  I obviously do not agree with that point of view and have argued about it a lot with her, which has done no good for either of us.

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7 hours ago, FormerLegalSecy said:

But she keeps saying she'd rather die than be seen using any of those "old people" devices (or move into an assisted living apartment in the same community where she already lives) because in her mind those things would  "prove" that she is "crippled" and (according to her) "useless." 

 

She is resisting what she needs to accept: that the body does start wear out with age, just as cars and other things do. And it is not just age that leads to these problems. Devices like canes, wheelchairs, walkers, and hearing aids are not just for the really old. Anyone may have to use them. Check out this site that has photos of 9 celebrities photographed using canes, none of them elderly. Two had the canes for costumes, but the rest were using them after injuries. One of them was an injured Brad Pitt. If Brad Pitt doesn't mind being photographed with a cane, no one else should be too worried about what they look like with one. Perhaps that might help her look at it differently?

 

I recently got hearing aids. I at first thought of them as something for the really old, too, and I'm not all that old. But then realized that I should just see them as no different than eye glasses — some people, regardless of age, benefit from them and if it helps then I should use them. My hearing loss is not severe, in lots of situations I could do without them reasonably well. But they certainly do help me hear things I would otherwise miss. It's silly to not use them out of some sense of vanity.  My only real complaint is that they cost so damn much and insurance doesn't cover a penny of it. 😝

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5 hours ago, Tax_Counsel said:

 

I recently got hearing aids. I at first thought of them as something for the really old, too, and I'm not all that old. But then realized that I should just see them as no different than eye glasses — some people, regardless of age, benefit from them and if it helps then I should use them. My hearing loss is not severe, in lots of situations I could do without them reasonably well. But they certainly do help me hear things I would otherwise miss. It's silly to not use them out of some sense of vanity.  My only real complaint is that they cost so damn much and insurance doesn't cover a penny of it. 😝 

 

If you ever need to replace them check out "Personal Sound Amplification Products" -- there are some that don't work at all - you don't want those, but there are others, e.g. Bluetooth devices, that work just as well as hearing aids particularly for mild hearing loss, but are waaaayy less expensive because they are not regulated and not customized like hearing aids are. The analogy would be like getting "readers" off the rack at the store instead of getting customized prescription eyeglasses.  They may not help with complex or more severe hearing/vision issues, but for mild and not disease related amplification needs, both work great for a lot less money.  😊

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I can attest to that. My husband has had approximately 50% hearing loss for most of his life - we're not sure if he's ever had normal hearing. We couldn't afford the prescription hearing aids until this year, when our insurance added the coverage. So for years he's been depending on those personal sound amplification products and while not as good as the prescription ones, they did at least allow us to lower the television volume a bit.

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14 hours ago, FormerLegalSecy said:

 

But she keeps saying she'd rather die than be seen using any of those "old people" devices (or move into an assisted living apartment in the same community where she already lives) because in her mind those things would  "prove" that she is "crippled" and (according to her) "useless."  I obviously do not agree with that point of view and have argued about it a lot with her, which has done no good for either of us.

 

Buy her a book:

 

Stephen Hawking: A Biography

 

https://www.amazon.com/Stephen-Hawking-Biography-Kristine-Larsen/dp/1591025745

 

Might inspire her.

 

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6 hours ago, FormerLegalSecy said:

 They may not help with complex or more severe hearing/vision issues, but for mild and not disease related amplification needs, both work great for a lot less money.  😊

 

Unfortunately for me, the hearing loss, while overall fairly mild, is complex. One ear is noticeably worse than the other, and in both ears the hearing loss is not uniform across all frequencies. In lower frequencies there is little loss, but it's more severe for higher frequencies and it varies from one frequency to another. As a result, getting a hearing device that boosts all frequencies, as I understand the over the counter ones do, would make the frequencies I don't help with too loud, with the potential risk of actually damaging the hearing at those frequencies, in order to make the frequencies I do need help with better. They had to do a fair bit of testing and tuning to get the hearing aids right. Now, admittedly I could have saved some money by buying one of the models with fewer features, but after seeing how much I might have to fiddle with those to change settings I realized that wasn't ideal. I wanted them to switch modes for different situations automatically. I also didn't want to have to carry extra batteries around, so I got one that was rechargeable instead. The ones with replaceable batteries only give you about 30 minutes warning before the batteries die. A lot of the time that wouldn't be a problem, I suppose, but being in the courtroom and having to change batteries in the middle of a trial or hearing would not be great. 😮

 

Same sort of problem with the glasses. Off the rack reading glasses won't do me any good. I read books and letters just fine with no aid. But I need glasses with mild correction for seeing the computer screen, and yet a different set of glasses with more correction for distance. I'm at a point where I may need to get one pair of bifocals for driving. Since my dashboard is a computer screen (which lets it do all kinds of cool things) I'd need a combination of my computer glasses and distance glasses.

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53 minutes ago, Tax_Counsel said:

In lower frequencies there is little loss, but it's more severe for higher frequencies and it varies from one frequency to another.

 

Me, too.

 

If you are interested in a technical explanation check out the attached files. I downloaded the article several years ago when I started wearing hearing aids. Very enlightening.

 

I bet your audiogram looks like the second one on the first page, just like mine, or close to it.

Hearing Loss Page 1.JPG

Hearing Loss Page 2.JPG

Hearing Loss Page 3.JPG

Hearing Loss Page 4.JPG

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My husband was the same way. In fact, his hearing impairment sounds similar to yours, Tax. However, while they certainly didn't do the same job the prescription ones do (he's still exclaiming over things he's never heard before, like keys tapping on the keyboard) the OTC ones were still sufficient to improve the overall experience.

 

I can't use readers either; my one eye is 20/20 and the other is 20/400. (Yes, that reads twenty-four hundred)

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Because the hearing aid microphones are actually more sensitive at picking up sound than the normal human ear I now hear things I would never have heard before even before my hearing loss. It is amazing what technology can do. Some day we'll all have electronic ear and eye implants to allow us all to see and hear things our natural ears and eyes can't do.

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4 hours ago, cbg said:

My husband was the same way. In fact, his hearing impairment sounds similar to yours, Tax. However, while they certainly didn't do the same job the prescription ones do (he's still exclaiming over things he's never heard before, like keys tapping on the keyboard) the OTC ones were still sufficient to improve the overall experience.

 

 

When I first got my hearing aids I was amazed at the sound of my feet on gravel, the sound of the wind, and peeing sounded like Niagara Falls. :D

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On 6/21/2019 at 6:19 PM, FormerLegalSecy said:

As the eldest child with her Health Care Power of Attorney in the event that she is incapacitated, do I have any standing to say, "No, I am opposed to this at this time. Don't do it."

 

You can say whatever you like to whomever you like.  However, having a power of attorney ("POA") doesn't necessarily mean you get to override her own decisions, and medical POAs typically don't become effective until and unless the principal is unable to make her own medical decisions.  That said, you certainly can voice your concerns to your mother's doctor.

 

 

On 6/21/2019 at 6:19 PM, FormerLegalSecy said:

The thing I'm worried about is that she is (and always has been) such an expert at being charming and manipulative -- I'm afraid she'll charm or manipulate some doctor or another into going along with it and giving her the death drug before I can do anything to prevent it.

 

QUESTION 2: What can I actually do, if anything, to prevent this from happening?

 

Realistically, nothing.

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4 hours ago, FormerLegalSecy said:

pg1067, not the answer I really wanted to hear, but I am coming to get the picture.

 

One additional thought:  You could, in theory, seek a conseratorship, which, if granted, would allow you to override your mother's decisions.  However, your original post seems to imply that you're not in the same state as your mother.  If that's true, then you'd be potentially looking at paying professionals to act in your stead (or moving yourself), which could be prohibitively expensive.  If that's something you want to pursue, consult with a local attorney in your mother's area of residence who handles elder law matters.

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