As I have stated previously in these posts, I do not intend to allow myself to live far into the condition we term dementia, should that fate befall me. However, we never know what might happen to thwart our intentions, which is why I have chosen to use advance directives as creatively as possible to prevent being forced to live a life that I find intolerable and inhumane. This is why I welcome any efforts to create the circumstances that allow everyone to have the lives and deaths they want.
Following is my Supplemental Directive. I do not consider it to be superior to any other, nor do I suggest that anyone copy it, though everyone is welcome to use any of it that suits their needs. I offer it merely as an example of what can be done. Referring to posts 1 through 3 on this topic should clarify the reasons for my choices. You will judge how well I have resolved the issues. I welcome ideas, critiques, and comments to improve my efforts.
“Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”
— John Stuart Mill
The United States Constitution and the common law (along with some state constitutions) give us the right to make directives that control the health services we receive if we become mentally incapacitated. The instructions provided by most states in the statutory forms that have been approved since the late 1980s do not limit us. We can write non-statutory directives I call “supplemental directives” when they are attached to and referenced in the statutory directives. We can also write our own health care directives without using statutory forms (an issue to be discussed in a subsequent post).
In Part 1 of this essay, I introduced two competing arguments concerning using advance directives to control what is done to our bodies should we become mentally incompetent.
As explained previously, the sole purpose of advance directives is to record one’s decisions about medical and related care if a person becomes unable to make such decisions later because of mental incapacity. To explain the range of options that are available both before and after such incapacity, I’ll use a personal example.
With this post, I begin a multi-part series that suggests how one might use advance directives to hasten one’s death to avoid inevitable, intractable suffering or an unacceptable loss of dignity, when the option of direct self-deliverance is unavailable or unwanted.
A recent article in USA Today, relates the story of a 64-year old Oregon woman with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, who is now in an assisted living center. She will eventually die from complications of the disease, but the State of Oregon is doing everything it can to make sure that Nora Harris doesn’t die until she has suffered through the disease until her “natural” death.