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Author Topic: Is there a case for positive euthanasia for end stage Alzheimer sufferers?  (Read 5359 times)

Offline Alan McDougall

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Is there a case for positive euthanasia for end stage Alzheimer sufferers?

Is it possible to maintain a youthful brain in an aging body?

Or are the two bound up with each other inclusively?

Alzheimer disease is the most frightening disease known to man, because it causes the complete destruction of a personality.

Would you want to be kept alive?,

My answer as a 76 year old man is an emphatic "NO".

I do not fear death and my wish would be that they give me a fatal injection and allow me to die peacefully and with dignity!!
« Last Edit: 29/06/2016 15:56:01 by Alan McDougall »


 

Offline alancalverd

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This one is a real ethical bugger.

People of sound mind and body can end their lives at any time, but really don't need to  - indeed we spend a lot of effort trying to stay alive. No real problem.

People of sound mind and intractable pain can end their lives as long as they are physically capable of doing so, but generally prefer to try to mitigate the pain. Miserable choice, but no legal or ethical problem.

People of sound mind who wish to die and are physically unable to kill themselves, cannot be assisted in doing so. This is a moral outrage. In a just world, anyone who votes against assisted suicide should be tortured incessantly, but never quite to death. No problem in principle, and some humane legislatures have solved it in practice.

But you have put your finger on the ethical problem. How do we distinguish between those who really wish to die but are incapable of expressing that wish coherently, and those who are just incoherent but perfectly happy to stay alive? Most people have at some time said "I want to die", but when should we take them seriously?  My mother seriously contemplated suicide when she was fully rational but deeply unhappy, but towards the end of her life she was clearly both demented and cheerful.

I share your desire to die at a time and place of my choosing, but I wouldn't go for a lethal injection - significant failure rate with large and previously-healthy men, and no gentle transition to oblivion. Nitrogen hypoxia and slow hypothermia are very pleasant and orderly. My preferred approach so far has been to set an arbitrary date (currently my 84th birthday) when I want to die at  my own hand or with the assistance of a lover, and to review that date annually. It hasn't changed in the last 30 years.   
 

Offline Alan McDougall

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This one is a real ethical bugger.

People of sound mind and body can end their lives at any time, but really don't need to  - indeed we spend a lot of effort trying to stay alive. No real problem.

People of sound mind and intractable pain can end their lives as long as they are physically capable of doing so, but generally prefer to try to mitigate the pain. Miserable choice, but no legal or ethical problem.

People of sound mind who wish to die and are physically unable to kill themselves, cannot be assisted in doing so. This is a moral outrage. In a just world, anyone who votes against assisted suicide should be tortured incessantly, but never quite to death. No problem in principle, and some humane legislatures have solved it in practice.

But you have put your finger on the ethical problem. How do we distinguish between those who really wish to die but are incapable of expressing that wish coherently, and those who are just incoherent but perfectly happy to stay alive? Most people have at some time said "I want to die", but when should we take them seriously?  My mother seriously contemplated suicide when she was fully rational but deeply unhappy, but towards the end of her life she was clearly both demented and cheerful.

I share your desire to die at a time and place of my choosing, but I wouldn't go for a lethal injection - significant failure rate with large and previously-healthy men, and no gentle transition to oblivion. Nitrogen hypoxia and slow hypothermia are very pleasant and orderly. My preferred approach so far has been to set an arbitrary date (currently my 84th birthday) when I want to die at  my own hand or with the assistance of a lover, and to review that date annually. It hasn't changed in the last 30 years.   


"Nice to read a fully thought out post, at first I thought at first you were 84, but after reading your post again I realized that it was just a date on which you think further living might not have meaning or purpose, in that you are very wrong at 84 you might be healthier more capable than a 25 yer old.

You should not set a date like that. Maybe the nearer you approach 84 the more positive you will become if this is the time to end your life

I am not sure of your current age but if you are still fairly young 84 might be an eternity away making it easier to set such an arbitrary date of your demise?

At 76 years of age I feel exactly the same as you do and once my life becomes an unbearable burden both to myself or my family I would like to exit this world on my own terms in the manner of my choosing

Why 84 in particular there are many active vibrant 90 yer old like England's Queen Elisabeth? 

It seems that for both of at present it is a moot point because our faculties,still very intact. In my family there been no evidence of dementia or Alzheimer's, although right at the end of her long life at over 90, for a few weeks my late grandmother on my fathers side stopped interacting with those around her.

What about 'A living will" In my will I have made it very clear that they must be no heroic attempts to keep me alive and if I am on life support they "MUST" switch the machines off and allow me to die with dignity.

God forbid if I become an Alzheimer vegetable I would want them to kill my body, in anyway they like, because I no longer occupy and it has become the nearest thing to a real zombie.

In South Africa where I live assisted suicide is a crime, although some people who have had family members or some sufferers of intractable pain of "Locked in syndrome are actively trying to make it legal

My parents both died at the rather early age of 78 so I have no idea in the would have become demented later in life but right up to the very last few moments of their lives they were both lucid, although my dad seemed to be both in this world and the next.

Both were very spiritual people with a profound love of God and in contrast to a few of my atheist relatives died peacefully, my dad just took his last breath while we were standing around him and one could actually sense his spirit leaving his body after which he looked more like a manikin.

Regards

Alan
 

Offline Alan McDougall

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Offline alancalverd

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I chose 84 as an arbitrarily distant but reasonable guess when I was about 40, and I review the date every birthday. I'm now 72 and apparently fit to fly (that is, I'm unlikely to have a heart attack or diabetic coma when airborne, but they never check my sanity or mental arithmetic - odd, 'cos aviation is a mental, not a physical task!) but I know that deterioration of mind or body is something of an avalanche when it happens, and the acquisition of new skills is already obviously slower than it was.

The great thing about being a rationalistic atheist is that I have no fear of being dead, just an aversion to the usual processes of dying. And having the absolute certainty that the show is over when the curtain comes down, gives me a strong impetus to get on and "do it now", because there ain't no encore!
 

Offline Alan McDougall

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I chose 84 as an arbitrarily distant but reasonable guess when I was about 40, and I review the date every birthday. I'm now 72 and apparently fit to fly (that is, I'm unlikely to have a heart attack or diabetic coma when airborne, but they never check my sanity or mental arithmetic - odd, 'cos aviation is a mental, not a physical task!) but I know that deterioration of mind or body is something of an avalanche when it happens, and the acquisition of new skills is already obviously slower than it was.

The great thing about being a rationalistic atheist is that I have no fear of being dead, just an aversion to the usual processes of dying. And having the absolute certainty that the show is over when the curtain comes down, gives me a strong impetus to get on and "do it now", because there ain't no encore!

On the 23rd of December this year I will turn 76 so in my eyes you are still as spring chicken (Just Kidding)

I have already had a very close encounter with death, I flat-lined due to total AV heart block and had to be resuscitated. I now have a permanent heart pacemaker in my chest wall keeping me alive, but I feel extremely well.

This event did not make me fear death any more than previously, indeed, it took away the my fear of of death almost completely  "

I say live life like an incandescent light, blaze brightly and go out in one glorious flash".

I have been much closer to actual death than you and as a rational theist I must tell you death of the physical body is not the end of your conscious being. I am not religious or attend any church or belong to any cult, I just have my own personal knowledge about life and death and what comes after.

And this is not an attempt by me to move you away from your position about the existence of the divine etc!
 

Offline alancalverd

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Now here's a chance to do some proper science.

Wherever we go post mortem, you are statistically likely to precede me by a couple of years, so keep in touch and send me the photographs. Or better still, live video. Just like polar explorers and astronauts, we'll amaze the world. It would be so much easier to believe in heaven or America if anyone had ever sent back some actual evidence.   
 

Offline chris

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Very thought-provoking discussion.
 

Offline Alan McDougall

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Now here's a chance to do some proper science.

Wherever we go post mortem, you are statistically likely to precede me by a couple of years, so keep in touch and send me the photographs. Or better still, live video. Just like polar explorers and astronauts, we'll amaze the world. It would be so much easier to believe in heaven or America if anyone had ever sent back some actual evidence.   


Maybe the authorities on the other side do not allow evidence to be sent back to this mortal realm.

Can I go a bit off topic.

I do not think that if indeed there is an afterlife that I would want to come back and haunt you. I think I would have moved on into a total new reality and have no interest in this one. Although I might be able to send you some good memes

Once I am gone from this world I will be gone forever.

If we contemplate the unimaginable concept of eternity, or the immense age of the universe and compare it to our tiny quantum flash of existence on planet earth, then it is obvious that we have we have been badly cheated by the universe a higher power or God or the simulation matrix we might exist in.

It was just yesterday when boy with a 103 kilogram body of muscle due to bodybuilding, indeed the entity inside of me is still that young boy, in an old decaying body (Sputnik beep beeping in space to my amazement)

My wife and I have just had our 55th wedding anniversary. I met her when she was 15 and I was a boy of 17 and for death to separate us forever would be hell and cruel. Thus  even if I am wrong, I am forced into the conclusion that our existence is something like energy, in that it was not created, it cannot be destroyed, but it can be altered or converted into a different type of existence. "To me therein is the mystery of the afterlife"

However, our bodies might just be the clothes our consciousness uses during the time we exist as materiel beings on planet earth, to be discarded at death  (Dust to Dust)

"Old age is cruel"

I dislike in the extreme the concept of Karma and believe that reincarnation is utter nonsense.

By the way I do not believe in psychic nonsense, such as mediums contacting your relatives so that you can hear how happy they all are on the other side of death. It baffles me how these ghosts are always in the neighborhood just waiting to be interviewed by the lying mediums. The "Long Island Medium is just one case" is just one example she is amazingly accurate, but maybe the producers only show her best guesses or she used stooges?

Or some form a telepathy?

Regards

Alan
 
« Last Edit: 30/06/2016 18:36:21 by Alan McDougall »
 

Offline alancalverd

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My wife and I have just had our 55th wedding anniversary. I met her when she was 15 and I was a boy of 17 and for death to separate us forever would be hell and cruel.

My wife died just after our 25th, when life was just about to blossom - kids left home, business booming, looking forward to a healthy retirement with the greatest love I could imagine.  There being no higher authority to blame, it wasn't cruel, just biochemistry in an indifferent universe.
 

Offline Alan McDougall

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My wife and I have just had our 55th wedding anniversary. I met her when she was 15 and I was a boy of 17 and for death to separate us forever would be hell and cruel.

My wife died just after our 25th, when life was just about to blossom - kids left home, business booming, looking forward to a healthy retirement with the greatest love I could imagine.  There being no higher authority to blame, it wasn't cruel, just biochemistry in an indifferent universe.

I deeply sorry to her about the of your beautiful wife , "but she was not just biochemistry", she was much more than that she was/is a living soul and you know that, because when you looked into her eyes you did not see a brain looking back at you, but another soul that loved you.

You cannot say for sure that there is no higher power "I know there is" This statement is not based on belief, but on an encounter with something unimaginably more perfect and intelligent than me during my very close encounter with death. It was something that changed me from an angry atheist into hopefully a non-religious rational theist.

You will not know as an analogy that Timbuktu is a real place until you visit Africa and observe that it is a real city in an African country called Mali

I said old age is cruel and it is very cruel, if we look at the appalling effect it has when they get Alzheimer's in their old age.

One sufferer I met could only grunt like an animal but would still eat what you put in his mouth.

Alan

 
 

Offline eeyore

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In reading through this thread, I am left with profound doubt that any of this was written by anyone with actual experience of spending time with an actual Alzheimerś patient.

As a sophomore I worked in a facility caring for them. I would get them out of bed and shower the pee off of them. None of them ever  showed signs of distress --- certainly enough to require euthanasia.

I am sure there are those who lack sufficient tenacity of life that they fear the prospect of senility enough to commit suicide. That is tough darts for them.

I, however, recall that despair comes from lack of faith and that the Christian virtues are Faith, Hope, and Charity. I have always been a stingy man so I must be strong in the first two.

As long as I can enjoy Tchaicovsky and pretty women you can stick euthanasia where the sun does not  shine.
 

Offline Alan McDougall

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In reading through this thread, I am left with profound doubt that any of this was written by anyone with actual experience of spending time with an actual Alzheimerś patient.

As a sophomore I worked in a facility caring for them. I would get them out of bed and shower the pee off of them. None of them ever  showed signs of distress --- certainly enough to require euthanasia.

I am sure there are those who lack sufficient tenacity of life that they fear the prospect of senility enough to commit suicide. That is tough darts for them.

I, however, recall that despair comes from lack of faith and that the Christian virtues are Faith, Hope, and Charity. I have always been a stingy man so I must be strong in the first two.

As long as I can enjoy Tchaicovsky and pretty women you can stick euthanasia where the sun does not  shine.

I assure Tchaikovsky music would not move him or help in because most likely his brain was so damaged by the disease that he could not hear anything. Indeed, from a spiritual perspective his soul had left his body which was now just a shell waiting to decay and perish. To all extent at the very end of end stage Alzheimer's a person has become a zombie! Sorry to be so graphic but that is the truth of the matter.

Find me an end stage Alzheimer victim that responds to a pretty woman or anything else for that fact? You said you had experience with them , but that statement makes me doubt if you had to deal with a drooling vegetable that could only grunt like an animal and open his mouth to eat or drink, If  he were not fed he would have just sat there and died of starvation or thirst.

Remember this thread is about someone doing something kind and positive, by helping someone those who can no longer help themselves, those who are a desperate sufferers of the most awful disease known, to mitigate their continued "Existence" in a state of intractable pain and misery, not keeping then in that awful state, which in my opinion a form of torture!

You were looking from the outside, you have no idea what is happening on the inside of an end stage Alzheimer sufferer, and I have had direct experience with an end stage Alzheimer person, who had been reduced to a grunting vegetable, who responded to nothing just sat all day with a glazed look and would only eat or drink if you fed him.

He might have been locked in totally unable to interact with the outside world in any way shape or form, I would not like "Exist" like that and would hope that someone would be kind and put me out of my misery. "That is "existing" a rock "exists it" which is not "life" or "living" which is a huge difference.

I have often had to put down my beloved pet dogs when I knew their suffering had become unbearable and would like the same kindness shown to me, if I become a locked in vegetable caused by a stroke or advanced dementia due to old age or end stage Alzheimer's.

In my opinion Alzheimer's is by far the worst disease known to man , it is the complete destruction of a personality, indeed the person you once were no longer exists and has been replaced by the walking dead.

Regards

Alan


 

Offline exothermic

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Is there a case for positive euthanasia for end stage Alzheimer sufferers?

Although no human wants to be afflicted with AD, I think the answer would be different for each individual/family.

How end-stage are we talking?

If we're talking immobilized & permanently bedridden.... than yes - but remember we're usually looking at around 5 or 6-years from the point of diagnosis when that happens.

Yeah it's easy to say with a sane mind that we'd rather be euthanized when things start getting bad.... but someone in the family would have to bare the burden of having decide when that time is. Not a decision to be taken lightly.

Speaking from experience, I know I wouldn't have felt comfortable making that decision for my father. Sure there were some tough times, but my dad was rather happy through the majority of his illness.

I guess it just really depends on how end-stage, but then.... wouldn't the immobilized & permanently bedridden criteria define every similar disease, not just AD? Regardless, I think we can all agree that nobody wants to go through that.

« Last Edit: 01/07/2016 13:07:58 by exothermic »
 

Offline tkadm30

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Quote from: Alan McDougall
Is there a case for positive euthanasia for end stage Alzheimer sufferers?

I don't think theres really such a thing as "positive euthanasia".

Furthermore, alternative treatments for Alzheimer exists. https://alzheimersnewstoday.com/2016/06/30/cannabinoids-may-protect-alzheimers-patients-from-plaque-buildup/
 

Offline exothermic

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I don't think theres really such a thing as "positive euthanasia".

So you don't think there is any medical scenario where you'd rather die than suffer?
 

Offline exothermic

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Furthermore, alternative treatments for Alzheimer exists. https://alzheimersnewstoday.com/2016/06/30/cannabinoids-may-protect-alzheimers-patients-from-plaque-buildup/

Understanding the pathogenesis of AD & the pharmacokinetic-conundrum of exogenous cannabinoids.... and without even have looked at the link.... no.

« Last Edit: 01/07/2016 14:37:58 by exothermic »
 

Offline Alan McDougall

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Quote from: Alan McDougall
Is there a case for positive euthanasia for end stage Alzheimer sufferers?

I don't think theres really such a thing as "positive euthanasia".

Furthermore, alternative treatments for Alzheimer exists. https://alzheimersnewstoday.com/2016/06/30/cannabinoids-may-protect-alzheimers-patients-from-plaque-buildup/

I read the article pot for Alzheimer s this would be wonderful treatment that I hope might help (Not mocking) 

At my age of 76 any cure would be too late
 

Offline jeffreyH

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In many diseases positive mental attitude and reduction of stress can help improve the prognosis. It cannot reverse all disease but can extend the duration and quality of life for the patient. For families this can give more time with their loved one and the ability to support the person until the end. This can turn a negative experience into something more positive.

http://www.gdatf.org/about/about-graves-disease/patient-education/mind-body-connection-attitudes-affect-your-health/
 

Offline alancalverd

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I deeply sorry to her about the of your beautiful wife , "but she was not just biochemistry", she was much more than that she was/is a living soul and you know that, because when you looked into her eyes you did not see a brain looking back at you, but another soul that loved you.
True, but it was the biochemistry that went wrong, which put an end to everything else.
 

Offline eeyore

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Someone claimed that Alzheimer's is the worst disease.

That is an incredibly naive remark.  I have known sufferers from Tic Douloureux to hang themselves -- while babysitting their niece.

Let us call a spade a spade. "Positive Euthanasia" for Alzheimer's means killing someone without their informed consent. People who do that are rightly imprisoned because it is Homicide.

Nor can it be argued that it is ethical because it inevitably involves freeing  oneself of a burdensome relative and very often financial gain by inheritance. I have personally witnessed that more times than I care to remember.

In short, it is abhorrent homicide to civilized people no matter how much some people may try to pass it off as some act of "mercy".

If someone finds it too burdensome to care for a sick relative, then they should pass the burden off to someone with more fortitude. Making up some baloney about "positive euthanasia" to get out of caring for them may be understandable human weakness. It is never the less advocating a criminal assault.

Even in this Brave New World.  So pull up your socks and let's hear no more of this deplorable double-speak about the propriety of Nazi style ethics.
 
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Offline Alan McDougall

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Someone claimed that Alzheimer's is the worst disease.

That is an incredibly naive remark.  I have known sufferers from Tic Douloureux to hang themselves -- while babysitting their niece.

Let us call a spade a spade. "Positive Euthanasia" for Alzheimer's means killing someone without their informed consent. People who do that are rightly imprisoned because it is Homicide.

Nor can it be argued that it is ethical because it inevitably involves freeing  oneself of a burdensome relative and very often financial gain by inheritance. I have personally witnessed that more times than I care to remember.

In short, it is abhorrent homicide to civilized people no matter how much some people may try to pass it off as some act of "mercy".

If someone finds it too burdensome to care for a sick relative, then they should pass the burden off to someone with more fortitude. Making up some baloney about "positive euthanasia" to get out of caring for them may be understandable human weakness. It is never the less advocating a criminal assault.

Even in this Brave New World.  So pull up your socks and let's hear no more of this deplorable double-speak about the propriety of Nazi style ethics.

"We are talking about "End Stage Alzheimer's"

Unlike the Tic Douloureux sufferers who still have their mental facilities, the "end stage Alzheimer's" person cannot decide for themselves to commit suicide or not.

You cannot rank the degree of those experiencing desperate suffering, for whatever reason, but my statement that Alzheimer's disease in the worst sickness known to man, remains!

I find your logic difficult to understand because, it is a contradiction? A Tic Douloureux sufferer is still in control of their mental facilities and can therefore; decide for themselves what to do about their continued existence, when they think they have has reached the end stage of unbearable suffering.

Unlike an Alzheimer sufferer, a Tic Douloureux sufferer (who according to you who is a lesser suffer), must be kept alive, at any cost, in a state of unimaginable suffering or even loneliness.

In contrast an end stage Alzheimer person does not have that ability and cannot decide for themselves to take their lives by suicide. They lack the ability to personally take charge of their own existence or put stop their suffering.   "Someone must do it for them", as an act of kindness, compassion and love, for the person they once were, when they were still lucid and had healthy brain to think with.

They are left, locked into a dying body, to slowly to decay, physicality and in every other sense, until their brains turn to mush and thy have deteriorated mentally to the level of a complete idiot (In a medical sense)..

"This is what I would want done for me" and it has nothing to do with evil Nazi ethics, it is would an act of kindness, not an act of protracted cruelty, that was typical of Nazi evil philosophy, such as the Holocaust death camps.

I am appalled you make this silly connection and has nothing to with the dialogue going on relating to answering the question posed in this thread.

I also want to made this very clear here, it is my personal desire for someone to in mercy to "intervene for me" if I am at the very end of the Alzheimer's the worst state,where I am no longer in this body and all of my personality has left and all that remains is an empty shell.

That is not "Life" that is not"Living" that is meaningless existing a stone "Exists'

In that awful state of non-being, I would want them to turn off life support, or give me an overdose of barbiturates to put me out of my misery. Just in the same in the manner of kindness and love for my beloved pet dogs that I have had to do, so many times, tearfully and in sorrow and very reluctantly to put them down.

Many doctors actually "Help" their dying patients this way in a final act of kindness, even out of love and compassion for them.

Assisted suicide is crime in South Africa, where I live, actively killing someone out of mercy and even from the position of love, would still according to our law would equate to an act of murder.

Alan
 
« Last Edit: 02/07/2016 02:53:14 by Alan McDougall »
 

Offline eeyore

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In the entire 40 plus years of my career involving frequent contact with Alzheimer's patients I have never seen even one of them "suffer".

They may be frustrated that they can't go walkies and get into the traffic. That, however, does not begin to approach the condition of "suffering" in any rational mind.

If anybody is "suffering" it is the family members.  That is life in the big city. Life is a [uh-oh!] and then you die. You have to learn to deal with that without killing other people because looking at them makes you feel sad.

If a person who is sane ( and not being coerced by "well-meaning" relatives to save money on treatment) chooses to suicide that is one thing.

Killing somebody who is not asking for it because looking at them makes you feel down in the dumps is quite another.

They send people to prison for that depravity.

This is an extremely unfortunate discussion. Someone reading it may come to a wrong conclusion about a family member's "suffering" and commit murder in the mistaken belief that they are being ethical.

I wouldn't want that on <<my>> conscience. Would you?
 

Offline hamdani yusuf

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I just found an interesting video about AD and I'd like to share it here.
youtu.be/dWcdBOYy_bU
 

Offline eeyore

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The claim is made here that an individual can decide that it is merciful to decide to euthanize an alzheimer's patient.

I will tell you why that is dangerous twaddle.

PRIMUS: If an individual can decide to kill someone without their consent out of "mercy", then why can't a government decide that it is mandatory to kill alzheimer's patients out of "mercy"?

SECONDUS: Bearing the events of the last month in mind, how long then before you would see some future Nigel Farage type creature driving a big red bus around the country with some message that 350 million pounds can be saved the NHS by mandatory euthanasia? After that what else?  ALS? Mental retardation? Cerebral Palsy? How about if they only kill retarded people who "aren't British enough"?


When a health administrator tells you, "It's not about the money, it's about mercy" 9,999 times out of 10,000 you can bet the rent it's about the money.

Am I wrong? Would you like to bet the lives of your family on it? Because that's what it means to accept "mercy" killing of alzheimers patients in the <<real >> world -- not cloud cuckoo-cuckoo land.

 

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