Mar 31, 2012

Right to Die?

Do you approve of the right to die? Should persons suffering from Alzheimer's be allowed to end their lives?

By +Bob DeMarco 
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

Yesterday's news that Charles Snelling killed his wife who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, and then killed himself was shocking -- Man Kills Wife Suffering with Alzheimer's and then Kills Himself.

By every account I have read, Charles Snelling was a good man, a good husband, and a good father.

His family released a statement and said,

"After apparently reaching the point where he could no longer bear to see the love of his life deteriorate further, our father ended our mother's life and then took his own life as well. This is a total shock to everyone in the family, but we know he acted out of deep devotion and profound love."

It appears that his closest friends understand.

Subscribe to the Alzheimer's Reading Room
Email:

This started me thinking about "right to life laws, attitudes and behaviors".

In the future, will persons suffering from Alzheimer's and other dementia decide to end their lives?

A 2006 study by the Pew Research Center found strong public support for right to die.

An overwhelming majority of the public supports laws that give patients the right to decide whether they want to be kept alive through medical treatment. And fully 70% say there are circumstances when patients should be allowed to die, while just 22% believe that doctors and nurses should always do everything possible to save a patient.

Public attitudes on these and many other end-of-life issues are unchanged from 1990, despite advances in lifesaving technology, the aging of the population, and the controversy associated with the Terri Schiavo case. Most Americans believe it should be up to individuals ­ not the government or medical professionals ­ to ultimately determine their end-of-life medical decisions.

The Pew Research Center’s survey, conducted Nov. 9-27, 2005 among 1,500 adults, finds that while overall attitudes are largely stable, people are increasingly thinking about ­ and planning for ­ their own medical treatment in the event of a terminal illness or incapacitating medical condition. Public awareness of living wills, already widespread in 1990, is now virtually universal, and the number saying they have a living will has more than doubled ­ from just 12% in 1990 to 29% today.

People also are much more willing to discuss sensitive end-of-life issues with their loved ones than they were a generation ago. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) of those who are married say they have had a conversation with their husband or wife about their spouse’s wishes for end-of-life medical care; only about half reported doing so in 1990 (51%). Among those with living parents, 57% say they have spoken with their mother ­ and 48% with their father ­ about the parent’s requests for end-of-life treatment.

There is strong sentiment in favor of letting close family members decide whether to continue medical treatment for a terminally ill loved one who is unable to communicate their own wishes. Roughly three-quarters (74%) say a family member should be permitted to make this decision, which is little changed from 1990 (71%).

Read More at the Pew Research Center website -- Strong Public Support for Right to Die

I read the following on the Public Agenda website.

MAJORITIES OF AMERICANS SAY THAT PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO END THEIR OWN LIFE IF THEY HAVE AN INCURABLE DISEASE OR SUFFER GREAT PAIN, BUT NOT BECAUSE THEY HAVE BECOME A BURDEN


Read More at Public Agenda.

What do you think or believe?

More Insight and Advice from the Alzheimer's Reading Room
You are reading original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room