Too old for "quality of life"?!

Perhaps this could be a line in a book, but not from my own client's mouth during an OT session!  Despite my perpetual optimism, it happened.

(Side note: Occupational therapy was founded on and is ideally based in... meaning and quality. Yet, how do we respond when our clients have bought into the belief system that “quality of life” comes with an expiration date that precedes the last breath?)

My session with this patient today took a spin towards lifestyle advising with an emphasis on addressing prevention of depression and exacerbation of COPD symptoms which had already lead him to the hospital twice in the last 6 months. As I probed and listened, I snuck in the clarifying question, “Which decision would give you a higher quality of life?” With a dumbfounded look, he answered, “It’s too late for that.”

Unwilling to buy into a “passed expired” view on his quality of life, I challenged him to consider the activities that brought meaning and fulfillment to his life (linking the engagement in these things to “quality of life”).  Eventually and what seemed like out-of-nowhere, he emerged with an idea that was so brilliant, so fitting for him, yet so simple.

And there, like a blinking cursor waiting for the next letter, I sat all-too-eager to know if he would really follow through with not just one idea when he got home, but all four of the strategies that could truly increase his quality of life and as a natural result, keep him home longer and out of the hospital again.  Only time will tell.

“You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink.” (English Proverb)

Just for today: How do you define “quality of life”? What are you willing to do today to truly assist your clients in regaining even a sliver of their own?