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Did Mum overhear doctor's end of life conversation?


Registered User
Oct 18, 2013
British Isles
Mum is in a nursing home and her dementia has swept away her physical health at an alarming rate. A doctor from her group practice who I had never met before came Monday to see her while I was there and it was a really worthwhile visit for me as I like straight answers as it helps me to cope.

While I was away for 8 days she had almost stopped eating and is incredibly slow to drink sips. She has rallied a bit (thank you M&S milkshakes!) but I was asking the big questions. Mum's hearing isn't great but I did say to the doctor "perhaps we shouldn't be having this conversation here" but he and the nurse thought Mum was unable to follow what we were saying as we had stepped away from the bed and were talking quietly.

She was subdued yesterday when I visited but I thought she was just tired so sat quietly by her bed after a few attempts at chatting to her. She suddenly turned her head to me and said "I don't want to die yet". I covered my shock and guilt by offering her the drink and explaining that she needs to eat and drink to get well as she has been very poorly. I genuinely thought she had just given up the fight and was too tired to keep on living.

I will never know whether she heard and understood part of my conversation with the doctor, or she may have heard staff saying something yesterday during her personal care when they have assumed she isn't hearing/understanding.

I will certainly be following the factsheet advice in future - never assume that your loved one can't hear and understand what is being said about them.


Registered User
Aug 30, 2012
Brixham Devon
I'm so sorry that you were put in this position Gigglemore.

No one will know if your Mum understood, or even heard, what was said. I'm just about sure that my OH wouldn't have understood such a conversation for at least the last year of his life-but again how are we to know?

Pete's GP NEVER had those conversations in Pete's presence. However, 111 was called out one weekend and they were talking about dementia in front of him. I had to refuse to talk to them until they followed me into the corridor:mad:These professionals should know better. You have taken exactly the correct form of damage limitation by reassuring your Mum that she needs to build up her strength-well done for doing that and very quick thinking on your part.

I'm so sorry that you have this to worry about on top of everything else.


Lyn T XX


Registered User
Oct 28, 2013
I used to have a notice on dad's door telling all professional folk that talking about anything to do with death or dementia is forbidden within his room.
Thankfully they all honoured my wishes. However the last doctor to see dad, the one who decided he was now end of life did say he was end of life in front of him but I believe by this point dad was too close to the end for it to of mattered.

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