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The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Your father earlier in his life says that if he gets Alzheimer's disease, he wants you to help him commit suicide. Later he get's Alzheimer's. Do you help him in his original request?

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32 Answers

rawbit's avatar

No. He won’t remember.

sevenfourteen's avatar

It depends on if you are willing to do time for it… this isn’t an easy decision but I think for my dad I would- but my parents are gonna live forever so I won’t have to

lillycoyote's avatar

No. When it came down to it I always felt it was my job to do everything I could to keep my father alive. He did the same for me. Even when he wanted to give up I told him he was not going to die on my watch. I told him I wasn’t going to end up on the local news doing a perp walk with a coat over my head. Anyway, a parent shouldn’t ask that from a child.

DominicX's avatar

I really don’t see myself doing that; they’re not going to think about it—they have Alzheimer’s. Not to mention the trouble it would cause me and not to mention the fact that I just don’t think I could ever kill someone or assist in killing someone. You’re really not aware of anything when you have Alzheimer’s. (I had a grandmother who died of Alzheimer’s in January of this year).

But I do know that my friend’s grandfather killed himself when he found out he was starting to get Alzheimer’s.

juwhite1's avatar

I think it would be really important to know if he still felt that way at the time. People often think they know how they want to handle things when that situation arises, then change their minds. There would have to be a period of some serious lucidity in place for my dad, and a very open discussion for me to consider it.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I was asked this very question when my grandmother was suffering from the disease. Given that heredity makes it more likely, it is a very real possibility for him. It even makes it more likely for me should I live so long. I would never do it. There are moments of clarity for Alzheimer’s suffers. I wouldn’t rob him of that even if he asked me to again.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

My Grandfather watched his older sister deteriorate with Alzheimer’s so when he was later diagnosed with the disease, he knew exactly what lay ahead. He told me he would stop eating when he began to feel too awful and that’s exactly what he did, was dead within two months of his declaration. Other family urged him to get better and tried to up their visits in order to urge him on but I knew he wouldn’t give in and I kept quiet because I also knew he was abusing his medications. I didn’t assist hands on but by omission, I feel I aided his decision. It’s a horrible way to die and frightening for the sick person, many of them would have loved to end their lives sooner.

YARNLADY's avatar

No. Any life decisions have to be put in writing, notarized, and must follow the law. So far only one state that I know of even allows assisted suicide, and that is Oregon.

My Mother-In-Law has a DNR, and yet Hubby has authorized resuscitation for her twice. She has gone on to live a rewarding life for several years, so far.

Darwin's avatar

No, I wouldn’t help him commit suicide, but I would certainly ask for him to be placed on DNR, per any directives he has prepared in advance.

augustlan's avatar

Here is what I told my husband, when we discussed this possibility in our future. If he still found any joy in life, then I couldn’t do it. If every waking moment were a misery to him, then I’d seriously consider it.

seekingwolf's avatar

No, because my father would never ask me to do something like that.

He’s asking me to basically break the law and put myself at legal risk…what parent would want their child to do that? It’s so selfish.

My father would never ask anything of me like that…if he did, then it would be the medicine/disease talking and I would just ignore it.

kenmc's avatar

I would because I respect who my father is.

I’d be selfish to keep him around in a state he’d detest to be in if he knew better.

Jeruba's avatar

When I was 14 my mother asked me to promise that if she ever turned into a crabby old lady, I would tell her. She said she’d had enough to do with crabby old folks, and she didn’t want to be like that, and so she wanted to to tell her if she ever did. I promised.

When she turned into a crabby old lady, I just somehow never found the right time. I truly didn’t believe she’d thank me for it.

So I couldn’t even go through with that simple promise.

Bluefreedom's avatar

Euthanasia sounds like a really good idea in conditions where someone is terminally ill and/or in constant, severe pain and suffering. My last surviving grandfather and grandmother both had Alzheimer’s in the later stages of their lives and it was very difficult to watch what they were experiencing and suffering with.

I imagine that it could be even more agonizing watching a parent (father for the purposes of this question) going through the same thing. That being said, I would find it extremely difficult helping my father to end his life (even if he asked me to and I know he wouldn’t have) by means other than him dying a natural death. Additionally, knowing that it is illegal to help someone end their life by artificial means, I don’t think my father would have wanted me to go to prison for committing that act, no matter how humane the sentiments for doing that might have been.

Jack79's avatar

My father has actually mentioned that. The funny thing is that, when I point out his memory is getting bad, he simply won’t admit it. He’ll usually insist that I just never told him something, rather than face the fact that I told him three times: yesterday, this morning and an hour ago and he simply forgot. He’s not really that bad yet, he just has these gaps, like black holes in an otherwise fully-functional brain. No, I don’t think I’d help anyone commit suicide unless they were in extreme agony. I can probably take good care of him if it’s just a question of forgetting where he put his slippers.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

No, because it is illegal and immoral

Jeruba's avatar

@Jack79, slippers are nothing. I don’t mean to be brutal, but some of us just don’t get off so easy. Even hearing the same remark from him 1500 times because he forgot he just said it to you, or listening to constant complaints about the TV show because he can’t follow the plot, are not so bad. Wait until he forgets who you are.

Wait until you can’t leave the room and return without his demanding again to know your name and what you’re doing in his house, shouting abusive names at you, threatening to call the police. Or you walk into his kitchen with a bag of groceries and he starts waving a stick and screaming at you to get out and stop trying to steal his groceries. Or he starts leaving the house unexpectedly at all hours of the day or night and wandering around town because he doesn’t know where he is and wants to find his way home. He’s in the hospital with tubes sticking in him, and he sees it’s dark outside, so he figures he’s at the office and it must be time to go home. He yanks out the tubes and staggers down the hall in his johnny.

These are difficult times, and dealing with them can take divine patience. Anyone who’s watched a loved one go through this will pray not to end up there. Agony comes in many flavors. I can see why someone might want to ask for a promise, although I think it would be saddling the child or partner with an impossible burden. I hope I don’t linger on doing that to my children and leaving them with painful memories.

Jack79's avatar

@Jeruba both my grandmother and grandfather went through those stages, hers was short and painful and caused by a tumour, he just had the regular Alzheimer’s variety. I’d have to go fetch him home when he was lost, and yes, he kept asking who I was towards the end and didn’t recognise his own daughters (somehow he always knew I am related to him, even though he forgot my name). But we were lucky to have lived in a small society, where people would call us to go pick him up if he got lost, and there were many of us to carry that burden, so I guess we got off easy. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if my mother had to go through that all by herself, what with her work and so on.

I’m by no means suggesting it is easy, but I don’t think it would make me consider euthanasia. And there are worse diseases out there in my opinion.

whitenoise's avatar

Alzheimer is one of the nastiest diseases around, that may trulycause unbearable suffering for the one struck by it as well as puts a lot of stress on the family. Alzheimer will make patients loose their memory and often subjects them to total personality changes. It is as if an evil entity takes over one’s body and gradually pushes out the person you are.

@Jeruba gave some good examples of what the disease can do to you. One of the saddest things I have seen, is that Alzheimer even robs patients of their relationships with and memories of their family. By the time mother or father dies, the family has been dealing with a patient for over years. Quite often that patient was nasty, ungrateful and in no way resembled the loving family member that was lost to the disease.

My grandparent were utterly frightened by the prospect Alzheimer – they would always refer to it as the crouching tiger. (Hidden in the bushes and upon you without a warning.) They had filled out euthanasia statements, that we unfortunately could do nothing with, when in the end my grandmother was severely struck by the disease. All we could do was watch her loose herself and grasp on to the memories of her life that were fleeing through her fingers as if it they were grains of sand on a dry beach.

In the end, my grandmother suffered from complications of a broken hip and we asked her doctors to refrain from artificially lengthening her life. She died in her sleep in the summer of 1998. I always felt we lost her years earlier, when she was hit by alzheimer.

Recently, our government has created a very small legal opening to Alzheimer disease as a possible ground for requesting euthanasia. That is, however, still a tough path to follow. The decision for euthanasia must be made while still capable of understanding that decision. It must therefore be made at the onset of the disease. At that moment there is, in general, however no real unbearable suffering, yet. At least, however, it creates somewhat of a legal and practical framework for people that want to have a saying in the way they end their lives, when faced with a terminal disease.

Personally, I am strongly in favor of people having the option of euthanasia when faced by severe suffering and a terminal disease. A prerequisite for that is a brain that functions well enough to make such a decision for oneself and unfortunately that is exactly the target that alzheimer is attacking. One can however not burden the family by asking them to assist in suicide, that is illegal and puts a responsibility of a moral dilemma upon people that is impossible to carry. Assisted suicide is illegal in most countries (it is illegal in all countries that I know off) and I am convinced it should stay that way.

augustlan's avatar

@whitenoise It is not legal here in the US. Sadly, we understand putting our pets out of their misery, but not our humans.

whitenoise's avatar

I realize that euthanasia is not legal in the US and I found that there are many misconceptions among foreigners and the American people in particular, over our Dutch system.

On many occasions, when I visited the US, for instance, people have accused my country of having setup a system of genocide. They imply that we push people to take their lives when they become a burden to society, which is not the case, of course.

Our system of legalized euthanasia offers a way to safeguard one’s dignified humanity, all the way through to the end and I am deeply grateful to live in a country where we have that option. It is strictly driven by the personal wishes of the patient and every request is looked at by at least two physicians to certify that life has become indeed unbearable without hope for recovery.

Furthermore: in the Netherlands one does not have a right to receive euthanasia, all that is arranged is that under very strict guidelines, doctors may assist people in shortening their lives when faced by a terminal disease that comes with unbearable suffering. Just being tired of live, for instance, will not qualify. Not even when one is a hundred years old and fully sane.

rooeytoo's avatar

I just had a health scare (turns out it was just that, a scare) but there was no doubt in my mind that had the verdict come back differently, my first call would have been to Dr. Death as he is called here. It is my choice and is the business of absolutely no one else in the world if and when I choose to end my life. I do not want to suffer, as Augustian said, we put our pets out of their misery but humans are not to have the same right.

This is another one of those cases where people should mind their own business.

Hambayuti's avatar

Ditto as @rawbit plus I don’t think I could live with myself if I did

ubersiren's avatar

I don’t think I ever could. Taking a life just seems wrong to me, even though I know I would be ending suffering. Then again, maybe I’d change my mind if I was actually in that situation.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Luckily, I do not have history of Alzheimer’s in my family. However, my mother has asked that if she ever went into a permanent vegetative state that I should pull the plug so she doesn’t live for a long time with nobody home. Her grandmother went into a coma when she was 99 and everyone thought this would happen. However, my great-grandmother woke up after a short time and pulled her own feeding tube out because she knew it was her time and she did not want to live in that state of being.

casheroo's avatar

My mother’s wishes are very clear when it comes to this sort of thing. She doesn’t want to ever have to depend on others for certain things, she’d rather be dead. I would never kill my mother, but I will respect her wishes. I don’t really know my father’s wishes as much as my mothers. I’m almost positive they both have will’s though.

susanc's avatar

You don’t know till the time comes.

wundayatta's avatar

The way I think of it is that we cannot know what we will think in the future. We might look at people with Alzheimers and imagine their lives are horrible. But that’s looking at it from the outside. We don’t know what it’s like from the inside. Sure, we can see frustration and anger in some, and relaxation and love in others, but that does not mean they would not choose to be dead rather than what they do experience.

You become a different person when you are sick. You are related to who you were, but you are different. That different person makes different choices. Should the former you make the choices for who you are now? I have a lot of problems with that.

When I was depressed, I was very close to wanting to die. I knew it would end the pain I was feeling. People kept telling me not to make any decisions right away, because things can change in a few months. I knew they were right, even if it didn’t feel like they were right. Anyway, this is a case where people try to overrule your choices. The difference is that death is an irrevocable choice. If you are alive, there is always hope for another moment of pleasure. I don’t think your former self has a right to guide your current self. If you currently want to stay alive for that moment of pleasure, that is what counts.

If you want to die, desperately, and you still want to die three months from now, or six months from now, they I would consider helping you commit suicide. I’m still not sure I would feel comfortable enough with you giving up hope to allow you to do it.

They say that in some cultures, when a person feels they are too old to be anything but an unbearable burden on others, they may walk off into the woods, or onto an ice flow, and let what happens happen. I imagine being on an ice flow that breaks off from the main ice, and I can no longer get back. It’s too late to change my mind, and in my culture, no one will help me. They respect this decision. The ice I am on gets smaller and smaller, and eventually it drops me in the water. If the shock of the cold doesn’t give me a heart attack right away, I will soon grow too cold to move or think, and then go under, suck water into my lungs, and the oxygen will cease, and I’ll be dead in a minute, maybe two.

There are probably less painful ways to go. Freezing to death has it’s moment of agony with the cold, but then it supposedly gets all warm and blissful. I’d rather go without pain, and preferably without angst and fear. But I have no idea what I would feel when death was that close, and so I can’t make that decision for my future self. I don’t think anyone can.

filmfann's avatar

When my Mom went into the hospital, the nurses checked with her several times that she wanted a DNR and No heroic measures.
She signed the forms that said so.
She told all four kids, including me, that this was her wish.
She specifically told me, since I had power of attorney, and medical power of attorney.
The next day she was in a coma.
A month later, with all that guidence, it was very hard to justify doing what she wanted. I did it, but it was as hard a decision as I have made.
I can’t imagine doing it years later, when a parent doesn’t remember it. I struggled with it when there was no doubt.

gooch's avatar

No that would be against the law. He also is in no pain so leave him alive.

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