a caregiver told me today that she may have witnessed a "mercy killing." she was caring for an elderly man whose daughter and granddaughter came to visit regularly. one day she was told to leave the room so she went to another room where there was a monitor to the old man's room. she was surprised to see that the old man seemed to be struggling as he was force-fed by his daughter. shortly thereafter, the old man died. the caregiver later found vials of vicodine, atavan, morphine next to his bed. she didn't tell the daughter that she saw what happened.
she was troubled by this. she told me that she was offered the job to continue working for the family but she didn't accept the offer even though she is desperate to find a job. she just didn't feel right about working for the family.
as the old man was taken away by the funeral people, she said she sprinkled holy water and said her prayers as she followed the body as it was taken out of the house.
i listened to her story and i saw how pained she was by this. what do we do in the face of this moral dilemma? if what she saw is what it was, then it is illegal in California. does she have a responsibility to report it if she is not sure what the facts are? does she have a legal responsibility to report? and if she reports it, does it put her at risk? this is a wealthy family with resources; she is a caregiver...she knows there would be repercussions she can't handle.
i am saddened because i am reminded once again of the way this culture deals with its elderly and infirm and with Death.