We have posted about numerous cases about the elderly and dementia and Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s affects millions across the country, and many reside in nursing homes and long-term, care facilities in order to ensure they are cared for and have a good quality of life even as they no longer have all of their mental faculties. We have also previously discussed how many nursing home patients, much like hospital or other patients in general, have certain preferences about their treatment in the event of certain circumstances.
This may include a wish to not be resuscitated in certain circumstances. The elderly or infirmed may decide that they wish not to live if certain circumstances will make it too much to bear. In one particular case profiled by the New York Times, an elderly Massachusetts man, who has a particularly specific “advance directive” that instructs medical providers, first responders or paramedics of what to do in certain scenarios.
For example, if he is terminally ill, he does not want to be put on a ventilator, be given a feeding tube, or be administered cardiopulmonary (CPR) resuscitation. In the event he is found to have some dementia or Alzheimer’s that affects his ability to feed himself, he does not want “ordinary means of nutrition and hydration,” essentially meaning that he does not want to be provided nutrition through liquids or spoon-feeding. This is analogously another means of not being kept alive, much similar in a sense to a “do not resuscitate” instruction or order, albeit it leads to a slower demise. As the article indicates, about 30% of the elderly above age 85 suffer from some type of dementia, and this disease continues to affect many Americans in general.
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