Keeping her alive ?


Registered User
Apr 4, 2004
My mum, aged 84, has vascular demetia and has gone downhill rapidly over the last year. She is in a wonderful home in the NorthWest. She is now doubly incontinent, drools, has incomprehensible speech (slurred), is aggressive and barely recognises me or anyone else. Her sister ( who is older than her but completely compos mentis) went to see her a couple of days ago. Subsequently, after discussions with her and her son (my cousin) we all concluded it is kind of pointless that mum is on endless medications - for high blood pressure, diabetes etcs. Would it not be better to stop the meds and let nature take its course ? We feel strongly that it would. Do I have the right to ask the home (or the GP that prescribes them) to do this ? Or is there some God-given mandate that life has to go on, what ever the personal cost, humiliation, loss of dignity etc ...
All advice appreciated.
Sarah x
Last edited:


Registered User
Aug 11, 2005
South-East London, UK
I sympathise with your (and your mother's) situation, but I don't know if the doctors will agree to withdraw medication. Stopping treatment, ie drugs, is not the same as not offering treatment in the first place, e.g. not resuscitating someone who is already very ill. Also, withdrawing medication for blood pressure, diabetes, etc., could possibly result in a stroke or heart attack which may not be fatal but might leave your mother even worse off. Your best bet is to have a frank discussion with the doctors in charge of your mother's care. My thoughts are with you.



Registered User
Feb 22, 2006
sort of north east ish
I'm sorry you're in this difficult position Sarah, especially on xmas eve. It's an interesting question though. I remember asking the nh to not give my dad one of his medications because I thought it was making him more ill. I think I had to sign a form to say I'd requested they withhold it. It was a bit scary to do, but it was only an anti-depressant which they'd newly started him on so I knew it wasn't unlikely to do him much harm if he didn't have it. Chosing to stop on-going medication for diabetes and bp seems different.

I guess you always have a right to ask the nh or the gp. You may not have a right to get the medication stopped, but at least the GP should know the answer to who can decide to discontinue medication.


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
I really feel for you and your family in this dilemma. I am definitely not in favour of delaying the inevitable, but I think Bets has a valid point: withrawing such medication is as likely to simply worsen your mother's condition as shorten her life. I believe that the BMA's position in such situations, where the patient can not express a wish one way or the other, is that doctors' should act in the patients best interest. I doubt that they would consider withdrawing the meds, particularly bearing in mind the possible results. I would imagine that should she have a stroke because the BP meds had been withdrawn that the NHS wouldn't be delighted to be forced to provide the kind of nursing care that would be required.

I do think, though, it is approprate to have a discussin with her GP about possible future meds - it is as well to have these things (advance directives) sorted out before circumstances require the., However, you should be aware that that as the law stands, there is absolutely no requirement for a doctor to follow your wishes.



Registered User
Apr 10, 2006
My partner had treatment withdrawn (i must point out that this was totally different circumstances)...........this was most definitely against my wishes but i was told that it was down to the medical team and that decisions would be made in the patients best interest.............this also applied whilst on a life support machine.......i always thought that it was down to the next of kin to decide when to switch off, but apparently not , the medical team decide............they said they would never leave relatives to make that decision, which is understandable, unless its the otherway around and you don't want them to switch machines off or withdraw treatment.............i had to get medical experts to fight to keep the life support machine on............(very, very wrong decision...........but thats another story) do need to speak to the medical team, they may not agree with your decision but they will take your wishes into account when they are deciding on medication and treatment.

Good luck
Love Alex x


Registered User
May 24, 2006
Given her condition i would dare to suggest she may not have long anyway

However theres nothing to stop you requesting a DNR on her notes or a request they do not treat infections that will inevitably come along now

With vascular dementia the brain is vulnerable and each infection etc causes a furthur slide

We were very lucky really with my Mother as her decline was incredibly rapid but then she was 90 and the 5 weeks she spent in a pitiful state in hospital were the longest in anyones life especially hers

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