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When a Treatable Condition Turns Deadly

Judie Rappaport
June 23, 2015

Dear Judie,

I’m an RN in a primary care office. Recently I’ve seen several patients die because they waited so long to seek help that the doctor couldn’t save them. Please tell your readers “doing nothing” doesn’t make your illness disappear—it just assures you’ll get sicker and treatment may no longer be available.  

  • Rochelle, Stuart

Dear Judie,

Please share this story so your readers won’t end up like Dad (88). He had severe osteoarthritis; problems with his spine, COPD, and headaches—all treatable. He thought he could manage better than his physicians, saying; “No one knows how I feel except me.” He kept doubling medications that made him feel good, ignoring others because “they don’t do anything”, and loading up on internet “miracle” cures. As he deteriorated, he blamed his doctors, saying; “they haven’t done a thing for me.” Dad died several weeks ago. Two of his doctors called me with their condolences. They said he refused to seek or accept the help he needed until finally, there was nothing anyone could do to help him. I’ll always wish I had known how to get help—or one of Dad’s doctors had referred me to someone who could handle Dad better than I could.

  • Harry, PSL


Dear Readers,

My practice has seen four deaths recently because families didn’t know when or how to intervene, or stopped trying because arguing with their parents/spouses was too stressful. The stakes are too high not to intervene or to quit- if you can’t help your parent/spouse, call a professional Care Manager or ask friends, family, professional, or religious advisors for assistance.

These warning signs signal a need for immediate intervention:

Physical Warning Signs:  Increased difficulty with vision/hearing/speech, falls, untreated pain, self–imposed isolation, new health/sleep issues, personal hygiene changes, incontinence, weight, appetite, or gait changes.

Mental Warning Signs:  Memory loss/confusion, anxiety/unreasonable fears, difficulty concentrating, paranoia/suicidal ideation, severe mood changes, disorientation, crying, personality changes.

Financial Warning Signs:  Unopened mail, unpaid bills, collections calls, uncharacteristic bank withdrawals, increased numbers of checks written, changes in spending habits.

If your parent/spouse exhibits several of these warning signs simultaneously, get help.  This is one battle worth fighting.  



Judie Rappaport, President & Founder
Preferred Lifestyle Services

Trust Yourself. You Have the Knowledge, Insight,
and Power to make the right decisions for you and your parent. ©



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