Attended VS. UnattendedDeaths
Basically, an unattended death is when a person dies presumably alone, and isn’t discovered for days, weeks or even months. It is common in the elderly who live alone, and don’t have anyone checking on them regularly, if at all. In some cases, an unattended death may occur after either a suicide or a homicide. If the cause of death is not apparent, an investigation may be started, ,mostly to rule out a homicide. There are 2 different terms that mean the opposite of each other: an unattended death, and an attended death. An attended death is considered if a person was:
- A patient in a hospital or medical center
- A resident of long-term care or nursing facility
- An individual in hospice careth
- An individual in regular contact with a primary care physician who has suffered from an extended illness
- An individual who saw a primary care physician within a 30-day period prior to death
An unattended death is basically when a person dies alone, and isn’t discovered for a while. It can happen in 4 ways:
- Natural Causes
In an unattended death where an accident has occurred, usually there are signs or clues as to what exactly happened. A common cause of accidental death is a slip-and-fall, especially among the elderly. A person who lives alone has a much higher chance of somehow slipping or losing their balance, falling and hitting their head, and then are unable to get up to call for help, or even to help themselves. This is sometimes very sad, because the person’s death ends up being quite slow. An older person is often weak anyway, with poor eyesight, and brittle bones that can complicate a simple slip-and-fall that may not otherwise have resulted in death.
Another common accidental unattended death that happens often is when a person chokes to death. It is amazing how easy it is to accidentally swallow something that goes down the wrong way, or is too large, or becomes lodged in your throat or your windpipe, and you get choked on it. If you’re living alone, this can be disastrous. Choking is one of those things that renders you helpless rather quickly without assistance. When something happens to effectively cut off your air supply, you will lose consciousness within about one minute. If you weren’t able to dislodge the blockage from your throat before passing out, you will die within just minutes. At least this way to die is usually much faster and less painful.
Accidental Drowning Or Poisoning
Either of these things can and do happen, and probably more often than you think. Family pools can be a death trap, especially for older people who are living alone. More than actually swimming in the pool, falling unexpectedly into the pool results in more accidental drownings by far. Aside from pools, there are also bathtub drownings every year. Accidental poisoning also occurs more often than you might think, in many unattended deaths. Carbon monoxide poisoning is actually the most common, and most other cases involve an elderly person who misreads a label and accidentally ingests something poisonous. Rarely, cases of accidental electrocution can be found to be the cause of an unattended death. Typically, this occurs either by an electrical appliance falling into a sink or bathtub, or a wiring error. It is also not unheard of for a person to be struck by lightning and result in death.
An unattended suicide is perhaps one of the saddest types of deaths there is. When a person truly and unselfishly wants to end their life, they do not tell their loved ones of their plans. They do not talk about doing it, just to be talked out of it, over and over. They do not call the Suicide Prevention Hotline. They do not ask anyone for help. One day, in their self-imposed solitude, it just finally gets to be too much for them to bear. Quietly, they get their handgun from the safe, and go downstairs into the basement, where they will leave the least mess and make the least noise. Crying silently, and with a last surge of hatred and self-loathing, they mechanically put the gun in their mouth. Without hesitation, BAM!! – they pull the trigger. That fast, it’s over.
And then one day, you notice you haven’t heard from them in over a week, and you get an ominous feeling. When you try to call them, repeatedly, their phone is shut off. After calling around to see if anyone else has heard from them and no one has, you decide to go over to the house in person, just to be sure they’re OK. When you don’t get an answer to repeated doorbell ringing and door pounding, you decide to call the police. At this point, your bad feeling has gone postal, and you just know that there is something very, very wrong, with this picture…
Possible Homicide… +*In Conclusion*
Last but not least, an unattended death, in very rare cases, turns out to be a possible homicide, and must be investigated further. This is usually not only because of the manner in which the person died, but the person being killed, both purposefully and with intent. This is quite rare, but does happen on occasion. In conclusion, although this article may have been a little on the “dark” side, hopefully it makes you think, about your loved ones, and the role you play – or don’t play – in their lives. Remember that you, too, could be alone one day, and in the same situation. And also remember, that if you have a loved one who lives alone and you don’t keep in touch with her, please understand that when she dies, if it happens to be an unattended death, you’ll be notified. No one should have to be told of a terrible tragedy that way. And keep in mind that if you have a loved one who dies an unattended death, you will be responsible for their remains and for cleaning up the scene of the crime. If this happens, call Crime Scene Cleaners, today!