Skip to comments.Wesley J. Smith: Should We Kill Alzheimer’s Patients?
Posted on 05/24/2012 3:45:28 PM PDT by wagglebee
A very disturbing article in New York Magazine by Michael Wolff. It tells the difficult story of his mothers Alzheimers, a course of physical and mental decline about which I am very familiar as my uncle died from the complications of that awful disease. But Wolff says that such patients have lost dignity, and indeed, he more than implies the proper approach to dealing with dementia is to kill them sooner rather than bear the emotional and financial expense of caring for them over the long term. From, A Life Worth Ending:
It is peaceful and serene. Except for my mothers disquiet. She stares in mute reprimand. Her bewilderment and resignation somehow dont mitigate her anger. She often tries to talkdesperate guttural pleas. She strains for cognition and, shockingly, sometimes bursts forward, reaching itNice suit, she said to me, out of the blue, a few months agobefore falling back.
That is the thing that you begin to terrifyingly appreciate: Dementia is not absence; it is not a nonstate; it actually could be a condition of more rather than less feeling, one that, with its lack of clarity and logic, must be a kind of constant nightmare. Old age, says one of Philip Roths protagonists, isnt a battle, its a massacre. Id add, its a holocaust. Circumstances have conspired to rob the human persona mass of humanityof all hope and dignity and comfort. When my mothers diaper is changed she makes noises of harrowing despairfor a time, before she lost all language, you could if you concentrated make out what she was saying, repeated over and over and over again: Its a violation. Its a violation. Its a violation.
Often, the people who really suffer in Alzheimers cases are the loved ones. I know we did. It is very hard to see your formerly vibrant and interactive mother, father, uncle, spouse, so ill and vulnerable. But they are not without dignityunless we so define them. Their hygiene needs do not reduce them to something less human.
The family chose to accept some high end interventionswhich no one forced on them. But those are tough calls too, so no judgment there. And heres the call to killing:
I do not know how death panels ever got such a bad name. Perhaps they should have been called deliverance panels. What I would not do for a fair-minded body to whom I might plead for my mothers end. The alternative is nuts: to look forward to paying trillions and to bankrupting the nation as well as our souls as we endure the suffering of our parents and our inability to help them get where theyre going. The single greatest pressure on health care is the disproportionate resources devoted to the elderly, to not just the old, but to the old old, and yet no one says what all old children of old parents know: This is not just wrongheaded but steals the life from everyone involved.
And it seems all the more savage because there is such a simple fix: Give us the right to make provisions for when we want to go. Give families the ability to make a fair case of enough being enough, of the ends, de facto, having come My bet is that, even in America, even as screwed up as our health care is, we baby-boomers watching our parents long and agonizing deaths wont do this to ourselves. We will surely, we must surely, find a better, cheaper, quicker, kinder way out.
Yes indeed, for Baby Boomers, it is always about us.
My uncle was helpless at the end, his condition made more difficult by serious glaucoma added to the travails of dementia. But he was not undignified. Indeed, I would posit he had a greater claim on our love, commitment, and care than when he was a vigorous activist in the Teamsters Union. And the people who cared for him at a wonderful Baptist continuing care home could not have been more committed to their patients well being, cleanliness, and comfort.
We already have the right to refuse unwanted medical treatment. Before becoming incompetent, my uncle made it clear that he did not want heroic measures or antibiotics at the end, and as his surrogate, I made sure he did not receive them. But his was not a life worth ending, it was a life worth caring. And that is precisely what my uncle received, individualized and loving attention until his time had come.
But there is an agenda afoot to get us to die sooner rather than later. So the caring story does not seem to be one that big time media is much interested in telling.
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It all depends on who “they” are to make the “right decision”. If “they” is the government, we are all lost to the whims of dictators who could mandate beliefs as eradicable illnesses.
Continuing the long slide down the *slippery slope*. The descent into madness; into hell.
govt ‘care’ must focus on cutting costs... especially when facing massive debts
therefore it makes perfect sense that the propaganda mill has started churning out media tripe to reduce expected tests as well as quality of life.
and now we see them pushing for killing people if *they* perceive the person’s ‘dignity’ has diminished
don’t blink or govt bob will recycle your grandmother ...
for her own good, of course
Utter rubbish. My mother has Alzheimer's. When they get to this point they are not really capable of determining what is and what is not a violation. They have already been deteriorating for quite a while. I am not making light of the indignity but there is not much we can do about it.
In any event the rare lucid moments we get from my Mother are priceless and I would be damned if I allow some savage to tell me we should kill her.
I January, my 91 year old 90 pound mother was in an auto accident. (T Boned by another car in an intersection.) She lay in her bed with a broken leg, wrist, arm and ribs with a breathing tube. They told us that she did have a prognosis of recovery, but that she would likely have to be in a nursing home, so we approved the surgery on her leg. They kept telling us each day that she was rallying and they would remove the tube soon. You could tell she wanted the tube out. They had to put big mitts on her to keep her hands from her face.
On the fourth day, she managed to remove the mitts and pull the tube from her mouth. My Mom was a very strong willed woman woman all her life. There was no doubt in any of our minds then that she wanted to go. We respected her wishes and the tube was not replaced. She died the next day.
I believe an adult should have that choice.
My mother has this awful disease...I have been taking care of her for 9 years..Hospice always acts like she isnt dieing fast enough..so this attitude is not new. Just turned 66 amd a young person told me I needed to die because I was costing him money...It will get worse..liberals who claim to care really dont.
“But Wolff says that such patients have lost dignity...”
I’m past 60, have lived on 4 continents and visited a fifth. I’ve lived in at least 7 or 8 different countries, been through a war and several coups.
I have met very, very few people with dignity to loose. The issue is NOT that they have lost Dignity. Do Alzheimer’s patients do or say embarrassing things? Yes, of course. So do I.
Does that mean they have “lost their dignity”? Probably not.
I believe Wolff is having a problem with being embarrassed by his mother, of Wolff having his pride offended and of being inconvenienced.
Hey Wolff, ever read “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.” I Cor 13:4-8
Perhaps God has allowed your mother to develop Alzheimer’s in order to teach you to love her and those like her? I have a dear friend who, until her father’s recent death, was caring for him. This was in addition to caring for a younger sibling with Down’s and an adult child with Spina Bifida.
“How do you do it”, I asked?
She replied with a smile, “Oh, I laugh a lot to keep from going crazy and I just let Jesus love them through me.”
Isn’t denying antibiotics hastening death?
QUOTE OF THE CENTURY - I just let Jesus love them through me.
culling the herd
Wes Smith sounds retarded. Maybe we should bring back the nazi’s “t-4” program and relieve him of his suffering.
More than that. The agenda is to keep nudging the 'goalposts' that define the beginning and the end of life until they converge, and all those 'choices' you thought you had are now being made by someone else. This is what the so-called progressives seek - the power over life and death, for any reason or no reason.
If we do not stop it, we'll find that our lives hang by the whim of monsters who revel in human sacrifice.
My mom died from that shit 6 years ago Il tell yay what anyone got near her before gods time would have been dispatched post haste
umm, Wes is on our side. The article he is critiqing is by Wolff.
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