“An Exploratory Philosophical Essay on the Euthanization of Alzheimer's Patients”
Phil 101 7/28/18
Should I have killed my Grandfather? When I was a child, my grandfather used to take me to watch the trains at the local railroad crossing. I can vividly remember rushing out of the house to drive over before we missed the train. Those are some of my earliest good memories. If you asked me as a child if those memories and experiences would last, I would say “of course, who can forget their own grandchild?” My grandfather did. He couldn’t even remember the English language, let alone my name or face. I watched as my favorite grandfather slowly became somebody else. His sleep cycle changed. He wet the bed. He became extremely emotional on the turn of a dime. Reading the newspaper and following the stock market was replaced with destroying the furniture, picking up imaginary dust, and calling shoes “small furry animals.” I hated spending time with this husk who was once one of the most influential and important people in my life. Before Alzheimer's claimed his memory, he said he never wanted to end up like this. He wanted his plug to be pulled. He included a do not resuscitate and other advanced directives in his will. He wanted to flatline and die while he could still remember his home and his family. Yet, for all of the memory loss and accompanying issues, he was in extremely good health, and he looked a man 10 years younger. This begs the question, “Should a healthy person with Alzheimer's be euthanized if they cannot make
the decision themselves?” If to die is what he wanted prior to the memory loss, should my family and I have been able to make the decision to end my grandfather's suffering?
There are two methods of euthanization, passive and active. Active euthanasia is a method of ending someone's life deliberately. However, there is a lot of confusion around what active euthanasia really is. Active euthanasia is not physician-assisted suicide. In physician-assisted suicide, a doctor prescribes a fatal overdose and supervises its administration, but the patient administers it to themselves. In active euthanasia, the physician administers the fatal drug. Active euthanasia requires a competent and enduring request to be helped to die. As of March 2018, active euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia,Luxembourg, Canada and India. It is not legal anywhere in the United States. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_euthanasia) Seven states: Oregon, Montana, Washington, Vermont, Hawaii, California, Colorado and Washington D.C, allow physician assisted suicide when a terminal diagnosis has been made. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assisted_suicide) According to a report in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Between 0.3% to 4.6% of all deaths are reported as euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide in jurisdictions where they are legal (Emanuel, E J, et al.). Patients are allowed to choose to end th...