By Tom Koch, Globe and Mail
The Parliamentary Committee reviewing Canada’s current medical assistance in dying (MAID) laws recently recommended the system be broadened to allow people with incurable illnesses such as dementia to make advance requests for euthanasia.
The idea is that people with degenerative illnesses could control their own fate and escape suffering after the point when they can legally give consent. However, as someone who has faced issues of dementia and other fragilities for almost 30 years – first as a carer to a parent, then as a consultant, researcher and writer – I worry that in the push for advance directives, lawmakers and advocates are embracing the fear of a potential future that is impossible to truly understand before it arrives.
People facing dementia, and indeed any limiting chronic complaint, worry that the life they lived is ending and the life they might live will be insufficient. The pride we all take in independence is threatened by a new reality, and it’s common for folks to say, “I don’t want to live that way.” Most find, however, that the life still to be lived is one worth living, if different from the one they knew.