READER REPORT:

Aunt's 'only choice' was to starve

NAME WITHHELD
Last updated 15:50 25/11/2013

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Euthanasia is an emotive subject but it should be a painless option available to people who have made that difficult decision. Without euthanasia, many people choose painful, lonely, drawn out endings.

My aunt was one of these people. She was in her seventies, blind and deaf all her life.  However, she had been largely content with her life up until she broke her pelvis and could no longer care for herself in her own home. 

She was admitted to a rest home and found the unfamiliar surroundings and unknown people around her very difficult to deal with.

She was allowed to return home after a period of rehabilitation but after a few months, following another fall, she was re-admitted and she was told that she could no longer live at her house.

She decided that she did not want to spend what could be many more years living in this new environment and being cared for by people she did not know and could not see. 

In her opinion, it was time to go. She told her family and the medical staff she wanted to die. 

Without any legal options, she found the only choice available was to refuse to eat.  After discussion, as a family, we supported her decision and to be fair, after psychiatric assessment, so too did the nursing and medical staff.

It took several weeks before she succumbed and it was painful to watch as she starved to death. We would all have appreciated the option for her to go quickly, painlessly and with dignity, to the death she wanted. We would have gathered around her, she would have been conscious and aware that we were there and that we cared about her. It would have been a much better death for her. 

I doubt I would ever choose to die, but I think a gentle, supportive, option should be available for those who do, after counselling.


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