Vail Daily letter: Death with dignity |

Vail Daily letter: Death with dignity

We human beings are mortal; death is simply a certain fact of life. However, everyone should have the right and the means to end their own life at a time and in a manner of their own choosing.

The American way of dying as practiced today is far too often, horrible, painful, expensive and dehumanizing. Most people would not allow a beloved pet to expire under the same conditions that millions of human beings are now forced to endure as we live out our final days.

Last year, Colorado joined several other states and enacted legislation that allows doctors to give a prescription for medicine to those deemed terminally ill who want to be able to die in a quiet, painless and dignified manner at a time and place of their own choosing.

However, the law as written does not take into account the increasingly large number of people who are suffering from dementia, many of whom if given the choice of living for many years in what amounts to a vegetative state, or having the means for a dignified end to life, would choose the latter.

It is my hope that in the not too distant future an individual living in Colorado who is in good physical and mental health and is deemed to be of sound mind will be able to clearly state in his or her living will/advanced directive that if diagnosed with dementia this would be considered the same as being diagnosed with a terminal illness and medication to end life could be prescribed if wanted.

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Further, should advanced dementia prevent the individual from being able to end their own life, the required medication would be administered by a physician according to the individual’s wishes clearly stated in their advanced directive.

Few people of sound mind would want to live for long themselves with dementia, or to be faced with the very expensive, emotionally draining and burdensome task of caring for a loved one so afflicted for many years if the individual has made it clear in their advanced directive how they would prefer their life to end.

Peter Bergh


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