Vail Daily letter: Consider Alzheimer’s a terminal illness |

Vail Daily letter: Consider Alzheimer’s a terminal illness

Alzheimer’s as a terminal illness

According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s chief scientific officer, Dr. Maria Carrillo, Alzheimer’s disease is set to cost the United States $1.1 trillion dollars annually by 2025.

There is no known cure for this illness; however, lifestyle factors such as diet, stress and sleep are considered to be contributing factors in brain function decline.

Currently, eight of my male friends who have been happily married for 30 to more than 60 years are contending with their wives who have contracted this dreadful disease at an annual cost of between $60,000 and $150,000, not to mention the heavy emotional toll it continues to take on them and their entire families.

Along with several other states, Colorado has a death with dignity statute that allows a person who is faced with a terminal illness and does not wish to go through months or years of pain and suffering to be given a prescription for medication that, when taken, will end their life quickly and painlessly. You go to sleep and do not wake up.

It is my fervent hope that in the near future, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia, will be recognized as terminal illnesses, and anyone so diagnosed who does not wish to go on living for many years with no mind at all will have legal access to medication that will terminate their life, if and when they so choose.

I am 79 years old, fit and in good health and have no fear at all of death or dying — it is simply an inescapable fact of life — however, I have no interest in living out the final months or years of my life as a physical or mental invalid and would welcome the option to be able to take my own life cleanly and painlessly when diagnosed with a terminal illness that would include dementia in any one of its forms.

Peter Bergh


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