As a caregiver to an older adult, you’re likely to have to make some tough decisions now and then. When your aging relative has a chronic condition or is nearing the end of their life, the decisions can be even more difficult. In situations where a senior becomes incapacitated, family caregivers can find themselves making those hard decisions without knowing what the person would want.
One way to avoid having to make decisions about care blindly is to have paperwork concerning the end of life decisions in place while the senior is still capable of making their wishes known.
One important piece of paperwork is a DNR.
What is a DNR?
DNR stands for “do not resuscitate.” When a person has a DNR, it tells medical professionals that they do not wish to have CPR if their heart stops beating or if they stop breathing. CPR is the only kind of care that a DNR applies to. It does not impact administering medications for pain or other symptoms or providing nutritional support. Those kinds of decisions are covered by other kinds of legal papers.
A DNR is an order that the doctor writes up. However, they cannot do so without first speaking to the patient, their proxy, or their family members. The paperwork is only necessary if the senior decides they do not want CPR. If they do want CPR, there is nothing they need to do.
Does Your Parent Need a DNR?
Whether or not a DNR is needed is a personal decision. No one can decide but the patient or their family members. There are several things to consider when choosing if a DNR should be put in place, such as:
Is the senior’s condition likely to improve? If you’re not sure, learn more about the condition and what the prognosis is.
Do caregivers, the senior, or others involved in the decision fully understand what CPR is? To be sure, ask a doctor to explain what it entails. Ask for the pros and cons, too.
In the end, if the older adult or family decides that a DNR is needed, it’s important that all caregivers know that the order exists and where to find the paper in case it is needed. Place a copy in the file where you keep important paperwork pertaining to the senior’s care. You may also wish to post the order where emergency medical providers will see it if they are called to the home.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring a Caregiver in CT or RI for companionship, transportation, or other elder care issues, please contact the caring staff at Care at Home – serving Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Call CT: (860) 333-6025 or RI: (401) 622-4444.