What is a good death?

A good deathOn the topic of dementia and a good death, I support a person’s right to be able to choose euthanasia. However, even if legislation was passed here to support it, the way it is currently being advocated for, would mean people with dementia would have to ‘euthanise’ themselves when they are still with legal capacity, which perhaps may be a long time before they would really want to die.  There are no easy answers, and everyone has their own view on this topic, some based on personal or religious beliefs, others simply based on a persons right to make a choice.

Sadly, the fact that many people, with and without dementia, but who are at the end of their lives, already starve themselves to death I feel is inhumane, but what Jerome Medalie, 88, who has an advance directive to not be given “ordinary means of nutrition and hydration” at a certain stage of dementia, featured in the New York Times article below has done might be a worthwhile step when planning our own Advanced Care Directives. Interestingly, the research in those countries where euthanasia is legal, only a few choose it; it seems for many of us the desire to Iive far outweighs the desire to end it all, even when we are in pain or struggling with other health problems near the end of life.

Published in the New York Times, by Paula Span, January 19, 2015:

Complexities of Choosing an End Game for Dementia

Jerome Medalie keeps his advance directive hanging in a plastic sleeve in his front hall closet, as his retirement community recommends. That’s where the paramedics will look if someone calls 911.

Like many such documents, it declares that if he is terminally ill, he declines cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a ventilator and a feeding tube.

But Mr. Medalie’s directive also specifies something more unusual: If he develops Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia, he refuses “ordinary means of nutrition and hydration.”

A retired lawyer with a proclivity for precision, he has listed 10 triggering conditions, including “I cannot recognize my loved ones” and “I cannot articulate coherent thoughts and sentences.”

Go to the NYT website to read the full article…

4 thoughts on “What is a good death?

  1. As you know Kate, I totally support a persons right to choose to die with dignity.

    I had a friend who tattooed something on her chest/heart …….”Do not resuscitate” in case the medicos planned on doing that they would see her tattoo that showed what she didn’t want..

    I’m actually having a meeting with my local Federal member to discuss “advance care directives” / living wills in a weeks time …. I want to remind him that the federal and state governments prepared a report on living wills in 2011 saying that they have certain changes that need to be made etc. No changes have been made and I want to remind them of the many benefits of people preparing living wills or having an enduring guardian.

    Another thing I want to tell the Federal member is that the sooner that living wills are put on an electronic register in the electronic health care records system, the better. That way it will be seen when it’s needed.

  2. In the USA it is the same, if you have dementia you cannot make the choice. I also believe in the person’s right to choose, and believe laws need to keep up with the minset of those who deal with dying and death. I don’t feel our particular disease should preclude us.

    • it definitely is time society caught up with all terminal illnesses, as well as people’s wishes and basic human right to choose… and a death without the tragedy and stigma of suicide!

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