Ask Fran

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Dear Fran,

Our  92 year old mother cannot imagine herself “giving up”. She doesn’t want to consider a “Do Not Resuscitate” Status. What should we do?
– Jean and Tom, Littleton, CO

Dear Jean and Tom,
Each of us deserves autonomy to the end. If your Mother is capable of making decisions, it is her right to have resuscitation. I understand your angst. Been there. My approach would be to calmly explain “Allow Natural Death”. Allowing nature to take it’s course with calm loving support, leaving all of the drugs and needles and tests and ambulance rides and operations and hospital stays behind has an appeal.  Once that is accepted, a calm Do Not Resuscitate conversation always turns out better. If you need more help, ask her Doctor to have a discussion. Most physicians don’t want CPR for themselves, not to mention for their Mothers!
– Fran

Dear Fran,
My family is opposed to hospice, and so is my father. I know he needs it, and will probably end up dying in the hospital unless he allows hospice. What should I do?
– Kate, Nederland, CO

Dear Kate
The “allergy” people have to the “H” word is just wrong!! Palliative Care is a great way to ease into end-of-life care. A lot of people haven’t heard of the “P” word and many can’t spell it! Palliative Care is symptom management for people with serious illness. Most Palliative Care programs have a Hospice division as well to take over if needed. It is sure worth a try.Here is a great resource for you: –

Dear Fran,
My aunt just stopped eating and drinking altogether before she died. I worry a lot about how that was for her.
Troy, Evergreen, CO

Dear Troy,
We love to feed those we care for, but nature takes its course as our bodies shut down. It is very common for individuals to become totally disinterested in eating and drinking, lose weight, and sleep more as our lives come to a close. My best guess is that she was oblivious to hunger or thirst. There are many other ways to express our care. Quietly telling stories, reading poetry, rubbing lotion on hands and feet, and just holding a hand is nourishing too.
– Fran

Dear Fran,
My family never would talk about death at all. Now our Dad is in the hospital, and there are all kinds of questions we are being asked about his wishes. We know nothing about what he would want. He is totally out of it now. What should we do?
– The J’s -Broomfied, CO

Dear J’s Family,
The main question to discuss among you is which is most important to Dad- Quality of Life or Quantity of Life. Focus on that when you consider the questions. Make the best choice you can, remembering 100% of us will die one day, and know that you did your best. You used the only roadmap you had. Now, all of you have to vow that you will not make this mistake in your own lives!
Go to: and start talking!
– Fran

For additional resources and information about Hospice Care visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization – CLICK HERE

As your horizons contract – when you see the future ahead of you as finite and uncertain – your focus shifts to the here and now, to everyday pleasures and the people closest to you.

Atul Gawande

Author, "Being Mortal"