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Old 02-27-2004, 05:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: Upper Michigan

I apologize that this is so long. I hope it makes sense though.

I have never thought that euthanasia was a good thing. I mean where do you draw the line. When someone is completely helpless, or useless? An infant is usless in that they have nothing but coos and smiles to offer but they aren't hopeless. I felt that euthanasia was playing god with peoples lives. Now I think I feel a little differently maybe. I'm still not sure how I would handle the grey areas but that will aways be a question for everyone to consider. The reason I'm reconsidering my feelings about this. Uncle David is dying of Alzheimers.

Essentially he's already gone. You cannot have a converstion with him anymore. He is getting to the point where he can't even talk much. When he does talk it's usually an accusation toward his wife, a question of who this "new" person is, or something so insane that we don't know what he's talking about. He really talks very little now. He has hit his wife, taking precious things from her or out of her jewelry box, destroyed lamps by taking them apart or taking apart his razors. He always loved to tinker but now he ruins everything he touches. He can't walk real well anymore but still manages to get into stuff. He's fallen many times and Aunt Nancy had to call for help once because he was fighting her and refused to let her help him get up but he had fallen in such a way that he couldn't get up on his own. They are both over 70. He hurts her feelings daily and even physically hurts her when he gets combatitive. He used to be a brilliant man. He spoke in English and knew some Japanese. In his life he had been a soldier in Japan, a highschool science teacher, and a pastor. He planted 4 different Baptist churches in Wisconsin. Those churches that he planted are growing and good churches. He and his wife adopted and raised two great boys. One of the boys is single and the other has 2 beautiful children of his own. Neither of them live close to home so it falls to Uncle David's church which he pastored up until only 3 years ago and to my mother who is Aunt Nancy's best friend to care for Uncle David and Aunt Nancy. In the last 2 years I've watch Aunt Nancy age nearly 10 years. This takes such a toll on her health and emotions. She went through this less than 10 year ago with her own mother who she cared for until she was unable to do it herself anymore. Within a month of putting her mother in a nursing home her mother passed away. Now she must go through it all over again. Uncle David would be ashamed of what he does now. Every night Aunt Nancy has to sleep like a cat and watch for when Uncle David gets up because instead of using the bathroom he now goes into the hall and uses the rack for the vacuum tools like a urinal. There is nothing she can do to deter him from it. He also fights her when it's time to dress in the morning. He has taken her own clothes and tried to put a sweater on his feet ripping it out. He's taken he clothes and thrown some away. He's hidden her jewelry. He has ruined 4 electric razors of his own and 3 bedsize lamps. He also ruined her alarm clock. He refuses to let her shave him and actually fights her so she ended up taking him to the barber shop yesterday and paid $17 for a trim and shave because she would have had to use a bladed razor and without his cooperation it would have been dangerous. She also took the 4 ruin electric razors to the shop for the barber to repair since he does that also.

All this has gotten me thinking. He is in stage 6 of alzheimers which has 7 stages. The very next stage is where he cannot, walk, talk, or toilet at all. How can that be dying with dignity. He'll end up dying in a hospital with tubes in him to feed and help him eliminate. We know he will end up that way and he has not memory of anything already. He doesn't hardly remember lang ago as a young man anymore. Yes he has nothing more to give but he's also tearing Aunt Nancy down and humilating himself. She can hardly take him anywhere anymore. People help bring him to church and he humiliates himself there or accuses Nancy of things in front of the people at church. They all know it's not true because of most of his accusations are so absurd but it's painful to watch and so very painful for Aunt Nancy. Sometimes she looks on the verge of tears when he's on a rampage. The loving, intelligent man she knew no longer exists. She's dealing with the grief of loosing that man every day and it's fresh every day because he's still "alive" if this is what you call living. I wonder, wouldn't it be best to let him go now while he still has some dignity? (whatever shreds of it there may be) and while his wife is still able to live her life? I think now after seeing what alzheimers really does to people and what I'm sure other deadly illnesses can cause I would not accuse anyone of wanting to give release to the invalid and their family. I myself would not want to go this way. Just give me an overdose of morphine please.

What is your experiences with things like this? How do you feel about Euthanasia and why? There are obvously some problems with regulating and deciding who gets to go and who doesn't. Where do you draw the line? Any ideas in how to decide when is he best time to allow it?
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Old 02-27-2004, 06:15 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm fine with it.
The best thing is for folks to leave their wishes for no extraordinary measures.
But failing that - those who are responsible for others should not hesitate to allow them to exit as well as possible.
It does not take me a lot of thinking to reach these conclusions.
It's basic humanitarianism.
We understand this better as regards the lives of animals than we do the lives of humans. But we're talking about animal-level existence here.
It doesn't need to be a long and drawn out thinking process.
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Old 02-27-2004, 06:26 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Wow, This is a very sad situation. I hope the very best for your Uncle David, Aunt Nancy, and family.

One thing to consider is what the possibility of having a productive life in the future is. For example, you wouldn't give an infant Euthanasia because they will be productive in the future.

I think this is a very personal decision you and your family will have to make. If I were making a similar decision, I think I would opt to put him into a home. He obviously sounds like a threat to your Aunt; emotionally and physically. From there, it is sad to say he will probably not last long, but if they do have some sort of breakthrough in the next few months with Alzheimers you will not regret your decision.

Good luck to you and your family.
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Old 02-27-2004, 06:37 AM   #4 (permalink)
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it's situations like this that make living wills a necessary evil so that people can express how they feel in regards to this topic.

i have no interest in being trapped in my body and feel the mind slowly deteriorate. no thank you.
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Old 02-27-2004, 06:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
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That is truly, very sad. I am very sorry, for you, and your family, raeanna74. I have to echo Art's sentiments about treating the animal members of our family better than the human members. I know that we place a higher value on human life, but what about the quality of that life? We keep people alive, by any means possible, simply in the interest of preserving life. Why? My daughter works as a CNA, in a nursing home. Not all, but many are simply being "warehoused" there until they die. She sees , first hand, the suffering that many of these people endure, on a daily basis. Medical science keeps expanding the lifespan for humans, but at what cost? What kind of life is it when you can't do even the simplest things for yourself? What kind of life is it when you can't remember the names and faces of your loved ones? What kind of llife is it when you are in constant pain and suffering, from a terminal illness? My family is well aware of my wishes. I want the plug pulled.
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Old 02-27-2004, 06:52 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Let me add my voice to the "living will" crowd. Absolutely if someone wants to be put out of their misery at a certain point, their wishes should be respected. Failing some indication of what their wishes are, then you just have to make the best decision you can. We had to go through this with my brother when he died - thinking about what he would have wanted, the kind of life he would have had, what he would have been happy with. It's a hard choice, especially if not everyone in the family agrees, but chances are the person's wishes would be pretty clear even if they didn't make them official. We all knew at a certain point that my brother wouldn't have wanted to live the life that his body would have confined him to. Fortunately, we never had to make the choice - he made it for us.

When you think about it, we do better by our pets than we sometimes do by humans. Why should we cling to life beyond all hope when we're suffering? There are some things that are worse than death, both for the person suffering and for those around them.

I hope your family finds a solution that leaves everyone peaceful and satisfied that they've done the right thing.
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Old 02-27-2004, 07:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Location: Northern California
I put my answer in your journal before I saw this thread.

This is a very personal decision. But, I lost my father to Alzheimers and my mother to Parkinsons. I do not want to die like that.
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Old 02-27-2004, 07:58 AM   #8 (permalink)
Location: Good Ol' Iowa.. Home of The Hawkeyes
I really feel bad for you. I do agree that we are more humane to animals than we are of our own kind. As far as dignity tho.

I had a can't really say friend.. but someone I had once been asscociated in the past pass away...hasn't been quite a month ago yet. She had just celebrated her 32 birthday at the end of December. Died of a heartattack. To much crack. Her obiturary made her sound as tho she was a saint. Anyone who knew her knew it was nothing but lies. I couldn't help but think how who ever had gave all the bullshit that I was at that time reading in front of me thought they were allowing her to die with dignity in a bunch of lies about her life? I don't know why they didn't keep it simple. One thing for her to have had to die so young and not giving herself a chance to become a better person. But to have someone be that embarrased about the way she lived her life that they had to lie? That cannot be dying with dignity.

I understand the pain this has to be putting everyone through seeing him go through this. But be thankful as you have something good to remember the man by should his day of judgement finally come and you don't have to make up lies about the person he once was and has been in your lives. My heart goes out to you. And I will keep you in my prayers.
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Old 02-27-2004, 09:18 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Having experienced how euthanasia affects those directly involved with the process, I can tell you that it is the last dignity afforded to all who have suffered so greatly. I wish you and your
family much peace in the knowledge that a "good death" is all that remains.

The right time will reveal itself when your collective hearts and thoughts are one.
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Old 02-27-2004, 10:15 AM   #10 (permalink)
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This is so hard, raeanna, I'm so sorry for your family. We watched both of my paternal grandparents get further and further from themselves as they aged. It got to the point where being around them was really painful. They just weren't the people we knew anymore. He had Parkinsons, and could barely move by the end. She was just old and forgetful and cranky. In the end, death was a blessing for them and for everyone.

On the other hand, there's this: about a month before he died, my grandfather had a bout of pneumonia. Dad checked it out with his doctor--turns out dying of pneumonia is a very peaceful, easy death. He basically offered it to grandfather. He said, look, we can put you on antibiotics for the pneumonia if that's what you want, but you can be out of this thing easy right now if that's what you'd rather. Grandfather chose the antibiotics. Amazing thing--even in that state, where he was disoriented, confused, upset, and weak, he still chose life. Pretty unbelievable. It was another round of pneumonia that got him just a few weeks after that.
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Old 02-27-2004, 11:11 AM   #11 (permalink)
Location: Massachusetts, USA
I hope your aunt gets to a support group ASAP. She's not alone in living with this.
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Old 02-27-2004, 11:20 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Location: Upper Michigan
My Aunt is in a support group. She found that when her mother was going through this. She will be a main speaker at a religious conference about dealing with and supporting families that are affected by alzheimers. That will be this week. Pray for her strength to speak on this subject that is so sensitive to her right now.
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Old 02-27-2004, 12:24 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I'm for self-termination/euthanasia for any reason. No one really knows what another goes thru mentally/emotionally/physically and if someone wishes to die I'm not going to stand in their way. As long as the person is suffering and wishes to die, they should have that right, regardless of what others belive or think. I've made plans to die on my 50th birthday for various reasons. One of them is most of my grandparents on both sides get cancer and Alzheimer's. I'm not waiting around for that. 18 more years is plenty of time.
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Old 02-27-2004, 06:51 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Location: Charleston, SC
Is struggle with this because I see euthansia on a daily basis working in a veterinary clinic. Sometimes it seems ness. other times it seems cruel. But this of course is with animals and not humans. Although when people get to the point that your uncle is at they have about as much say in the matter as an animal does.

Overall I guess you could say for religious reasons I do not believe that we should be allowed to take our own lives or that it is right to take the life of another.

That brings up a whole new topic and one I have discussed in the past which is suffering, and the prupose of it.
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Old 03-01-2004, 02:36 PM   #15 (permalink)
Euthanasia is a very touchy and emotional subject for many people, religious and non-religious. This reminds me of the whole Jack Kevorkian episodes.

Let me start by saying that I think Jack Kevorkian is a loose canon, a psycho, a horribly unstable man trying to play God with peoples lives. He was a psychologist/psychiatrist or something like that so what gives him the right to put himself between man and God?

As harsh as this may sound I don't feel that any of us should be able to choose who gets to die or to live except for the person who is suffering. If that person can't pull their own plug, then they will live with what life has dealt them, unless stated in their will while they were in their right mind and not coerced by someone else.

I'm not a religious expert and I'm far from being religious. However I do believe in God and I hope to not offend anyone by stating what I'm about to say as speculation; here goes:: Jesus knew he was going to die;Did Jesus pull his plug? Die why? For our sins. He suffered betrayal, pain, and humiliation because he knew that the world is/was/always will be full of sinners. He died for us so that we may live. Key word being LIVE. Surely God doesn't want us to suffer and yet at the same time, suffering is what he did for us.. so would it be right for us to kill ourselves or others because we don't want to suffer the same consequences as Jesus did for us? Are we to good for that?

Being in pain is not something to relish or is it enjoyable. Ideally everyone wants to die peacefully and that could only happen in a perfect world, which this is not. If I'm going to die a horrible painful death, so be it. I'm ready for when it happens and I accept it whether there is mountains of pain or little anthills.

just .02

btw, raeanna74 I'm sorry to hear about your Uncle. My thoughts are with you and yours during your time of sadness.
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Old 03-02-2004, 01:02 AM   #16 (permalink)
Location: Vegas/So. Cal
If people want to die then that's their choice.
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Old 03-02-2004, 04:24 AM   #17 (permalink)
Alzheimers is terrible and i've always thought worse for those surrounding the person than the person themselves (atleast once they are totally gone and they don't remember anyone). Before that to realize that you can't remember your wife's name or your own at times? Myself I wouldn't wish that and for the sake of my family i'd request some type of home to save them the agony of what will soon follow.

I can't say being in a home with a diaper and tubes is what I would call quality of life either. I've always made it clear I don't wany any of that, just let me go and scatter my ashes.

I thoughts are with you Raenna I know these are the types of disicions & what if's? we dread as we get older w/ regards to family.
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Old 03-02-2004, 07:09 AM   #18 (permalink)
Location: NC
This is truly tragic...but you may be in for a longer haul.

We seem to be debating and confusing two different things.

Euthanasia is an active process, one currently not in vogue in the States. It involves the active administration of an agent to hasten the demise of the sufferer. The legalities are muddy and current societal vibe is against it. With your uncle's mental status impaired, I doubt, even in the most liberal states, that this could occur for him.

The other thing is to withhold extraordinary measures. Now this is an established practice in healthcare, and most of the doctors I know will only treat the patient as much as his family is willing to go along with. Most modern medical practitioners are realizing that we do death and dying rather poorly, and are stepping up to the challenge by initiating discussions very early on in the terminal process.

The key to the process is communication. In healthcare, the norm is to treat the disease. You have to be very clear that the entire family is behind the decision to let nature take its course. A living will is a great tool, but I've seen several revoked by the lone family member who disagreed with, or was uninformed of the decision, and just happened to be the person in the room with the patient when the demise was imminent.

It's best to talk with your physician about these things, as they can usually offer you things like hospice, and the ability not to provide artificial nutrition. It's never easy, but when you, your family and your physician are on the same page, you'll be surprised how easily the end can be for both the patient and the family.

Also, don't forget that this is not an all or nothing event. You can have degrees of care. You may want to initially treat a pneumonia, if it turns for the worse you may want to stall treatment at that stage and let nature take its course. Good communication is KEY! Your physician is there for YOU! Make him understand and tailor his treatment to your wishes.

I wish you well, and God bless.

EDIT: I've googled and it seems that the term euthanasia applies to both the active process that I associate it with, AND the passive *let them go* process. This used to not be the case. Sorry for any terminology snafu's. The point is still made.
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Old 03-02-2004, 08:54 PM   #19 (permalink)
Originally posted by Zander
If people want to die then that's their choice.

We develope all kinds of drugs to ease suffering- simple things like a stuffy nose, and more complex things like antidepressants and anesthesia for surgery... why then is there such a big controversy over easing the greatest suffering of all- indignity, and wrestling with death?

I'm very sorry to hear about your Uncle, I hope your whole family will soon know some peace, in whatever form that takes.

Best wishes-
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Old 03-17-2004, 09:12 AM   #20 (permalink)
But I think that in some cases euthanasia is only option.for example if I would paralysed I wouldn't want to live anymore,alltough thats what I say no.I'm not shore what I would say if it really happens to me someday,maybe I see things in different light...!
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Old 03-17-2004, 01:41 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Location: upstate NY
mr sticky made some really important points. One doesn't have to be euthanized to have a dignified death. One thing nobody has brought up here is the concept of palliative care. It comes up most frequently with cancer patients, but is certainly relevant to your situation as well.

Palliative care involves management of disturbing symptoms, and optimizing quality of life while realizing that the underlying disease process (Alzheimers in this case) will continue to progress. In the States and elsewhere, Hospice care is often the most effective way of giving palliation. I'm sure you could learn a lot more about hospice by doing a google search. It's a nationwide (world-wide really) organization, with chapters at the local level. They can help you and your family decide what you really want. I can guarantee you, if he's a Hospice patient and doesn't want interventions like IV's etc he will NOT be getting them.
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Old 03-17-2004, 03:02 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Location: Virginia
I'm for it. Last year I saw my grandfather who was a brilliant businessman reduced by disease and age to a person that recognized me as my dad and had to repeatedly be assured that it was alright to use the bedpan(were talking more than 20 times in a 30 min period).Whatever reservations I had before that were stricken after that event.I'm positive he didn't want to go out like that.
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Old 03-18-2004, 11:14 AM   #23 (permalink)
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i'm a supporter of the choice of euthenasia, i don't agree that it should be used in all situations. However, i lost my grandma about 2 years ago to cancer, it was a horrible horrible thing to witness because my family is all very close. She was in so much pain and just wanted it over. The toll it took on my family was horrendous and my aunties (3) are still haunted because they were with her 24/7 until the day she passed away. The hospitals could no longer do anything for her, so they took her home to die peacefully, but looking back now, it just makes you wonder about quality of life i guess.

i would never want to put my family through that kind of pain, nor would i like to be reduced to that state either. Ideally we should all be able to go peacefully with as little pain as possible, now, it's just a matter of being given that option or not. It's not playing god, it's showing mercy and love to someone in a terrible place.
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Old 04-02-2004, 10:53 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Location: Upper Michigan
Uncle David had multiple heart attacks Wednesday night. Thursday they did an angioplasty and put in a stint in the worst artery. The only way to truely repair the arteries is a quadriple bipass. With him in the second to last stage of Alzheimers, being over 75 yrs old and no able to walk to well as it is there really isn't any hope of him recovering from any surgery well. If they did the surgery he would die in the hospital. WITH the bipass they only give him about a month. They still give him only a month as is.

He was sent home today to live his last days there. The good thing is that this will shorten his time suffering from Alzheimers. Often he no longer recognizes his wife who he's been with over 50 years. He doesn't recognize his home, dog, clothes. His mind is gone. His body is ready to go. I hope he doesn't go with much pain. He will be greatly missed by so many people.
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Old 04-03-2004, 08:18 AM   #25 (permalink)
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I'm so sorry, hon. Take comfort from the fact that he'll be missed and he lived a full life when he was himself. I'll be thinking about you.
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Old 04-03-2004, 08:29 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Hold on there raeanna, I wish you and your aunt all the strength in the world
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Old 04-10-2004, 03:36 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Location: Denver
Oh raeanna74, I'm sorry to hear about this. I hope you pull through.

I know this doesn't apply directly to your situation, but years ago I read "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom. It's an excellent book about how to deal with life & death, and I believe that it may ease your pain. I know it made me reevaluate a lot of my feelings about life as a whole.

I think these sorts of situations are inevitable, and we as humans should establish for ourselves at what point we would approve of euthanasia, so that it would still be our choice, even if at that point we could no longer think. I for one would rather be dead than live with a potato spud for a brain. I am sure there are many others like this. So it's basically like an extension to the drivers license instructions regarding your organs in death.

Good luck, raeanna74.
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Old 04-10-2004, 04:33 PM   #28 (permalink)
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I don'y know you, but i'm empathising. I lived with a grandfather who died from a long series of mini-strokes. Robbing him of faculties, memories and personality. It was terrible to see a proud man reduced.

The end was painful for us, but a release for him.

I don't know what i'm trying to say, maybe it's to be glad that he'll be released from his tortures soon as well as sad that a loved one will be leaving.


On to my opinions on euthanasia:

It's my opinion that anyone, at any stage of terminal illness should be medically certified as such by a number of qualified physicians.

That certification should bestow the right upon that person to, at any time of their choosing, pass away in a dignified manner of their choosing (from reasonable alternatives).

That entitlement should pass to the next of kin, or body of kin, as and when the afflicted individual is past the point of making a coherent decision.

That person, while coherent. may make an express wish that the upmost be done to keep them alive in any form for as long as possible.

At the minute here in the uk, a person has to wait to be in so much pain that the administration of sufficient pain relief will kill them before a medical professional is allowed to bring a semi-gracious end to their suffering. The object must be pain reduction, not relief from the pain of carrying on.

What a horrible, horrible fudge.
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