My grandmother is in the hospital and may not make it. She originally broke her leg but developed pneumonia in the hospital, along with blood clots in her lungs. She is conscious but can't talk due to being on life support. That's where the problems are. My grandmother signed papers saying she doesn't want to be on life support. The staff have her strapped down because she keeps trying to get up. They want to sedate her to allow time for the medicine to work and for her to heal. However, if life support is removed she will likely die.
Although I do believe people have the right to choose what health care they will have, such as whether or not they want to be on life support, I would strongly advise people to think the issue through before making their choice. I think most people have this belief that when it comes to life support that they will be unconscious, in a coma, or a vegetable, and that's simply not necessarily true. A person can be fully awake and conscious and be on life support. I also think people have this notion that they will be this vegetable or will be "trapped in their body" or will suffer brain damage and think that it would be better if they pass then survive. In reality life support is often given to people with illnesses, such as pneumonia for example, where the doctors believe that without life support the person will simply not be able to breathe and will die. This form of life support is not long-term and lasts only until the person has recovered from the illness. In these situations the life support is removed as soon as the doctors feel the threat of dying from not being able to breathe has passed. The only reason why I'm bringing this up is because I've seen families who fight with doctors about taking their loved ones off of life support, in effect sending the loved one into eternity when had the family listened to the doctor then the loved one would have only been on life support for like a week, two weeks, and then would have recovered and been released. Now, I'm not saying you should put your full faith in the doctors but just that people need to use their brains.
So I strongly urge my readers to talk to their older loved ones about this issue. Find out their wishes and if they choose not to be put on life support they will need to have official papers stating such. Without any official documentation the doctors will usually just ignore the family because they figure that if the person truly did not want to be on life support then they would have made the extra step of getting the paper work done. Also, talk to your loved ones and let them understand that it may very well be that they are fully conscious when put on life support and the life support may only be temporarily needed and may not be the long-term life support that they fear. I can rest easy once a person knows this information and then makes their choice rather than simply allowing a person to remain ignorant of the reality of life-support and end up being sent early to the grave.
Note: It is very common for people on life-support to be sedated. They do this because it can be uncomfortable and because people will try to get up, rip out the tubes, etc. So they tend to sedate the patient so the patient can relax and rest and give their body time to heal. However, even if sedated the person usually comes in and out of consciousness. They can't talk but you can tell in their eyes that they "are there".