Thirty-six million people diagnosed with dementia (mostly Alzheimer’s) worldwide face limited options for a dignified death.
If you had the choice to live until the last possible moment, what would that moment look like?
- Would you be in a hospital unable to speak yet connected to countless life-supporting pieces of technology?
- Would you be warmed by the sun’s rays while enjoying your family?
Okay, that’s unfair. Who would choose number 1?
Yet, do we have the right to decide when life is not worth living?
Right now, we don’t have a choice—that is, we don’t have options if we believe we’re finished living. While Dr. Kevorkian (Dr. Death and a fellow Armenian), tried to further the cause of a dignified death, his over-confidence halted progress he could have made toward exploring reasonable options at end-of-life.
Let’s look at it another way.
Just as a woman, still has the right to choose to bring life into this world, what about giving people who are terminally ill a choice to exit this world?
Certainly, I’m touching on some dearly held beliefs by even suggesting this.
Yet, just as privacy rights advocates were silenced right after 9/11 in the name of Homeland Security, the healthcare finance reforms are forcing us to make difficult choices.
Fewer funds in the government’s coffers will mean fewer benefits to subsidize long-term care (in the U.S., reduced Medicaid benefits). Moving assets to qualify for the look-back period in order to qualify for federal support won’t matter once funds run dry.
Either we don’t do anything and live with another knee-jerk legislation or we take it upon us NOW to make some important yet difficult decisions that reflect an acceptable balance among societal mores, religious values, and available funding.
I’ve witnessed some who cling onto life’s fumes praying for God to take them when faced with death, while others wish for a compassionate release from their suffering with cognitive and physical inabilities.
Which will you choose when the time draws near?
Michael Ellenbogen pictured here driving a convertible in the Florida Keys offers some insights from the inside where he lives with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Click here to read what Ellenbogen recently told Emma Steel about living with Alzheimer’s. For more, click to see The Caregiver’s Voice Feature on Michael Ellenbogen.