Dementia advocates push for advance consent for doctor-assisted death
Published Friday, April 14, 2017 10:00PM EDT
Some dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers say they would like the right to consent to doctor-assisted suicide before the disease destroys their ability to walk, talk and think.
It is against the law in Canada, but Quebec is the first province to consider this controversial proposal.
One of its supporters is Quebec politician Francois Bonnardel, who watches helplessly as Alzheimer’s slowly destroys the mind and body of his mother, Yolande Tremblay.
“She does not talk, she can’t walk, she (is) not appreciating life,” Bonnardel, who is a member of the National Assembly in Quebec, told CTV News.
Bonnardel has become the frontman for the controversial cause: pushing Quebec to allow those diagnosed with dementia to ask for a medically assisted death in advance of their decline.
“With my mom, I never had this discussion and I am sorry about that today because I really think she would tell me, ‘Francois, if I am looking like that in 25 years, I have dementia, I have this Alzheimer disease. I give you this option to end … my life.’”
Jocelyne Lizotte’sfamily says that is the option she wanted as well.
Lizotte had Alzheimer’s but was denied a medically assisted death. She reportedly asked her husband to end her life, her family said. Michel Cadotte, 55, was arrested at a Montreal nursing home on February 20. He has now been charged with second-degree murder.
The case prompted the province to study whether advance consent should be allowed.
Advocates say it could lead to major changes.
“There is a provincial government that is willing to address this critical issue that so many Canadians, 80 per cent, support advance consent for a diagnosis like dementia,” Shanaaz Gokool, CEO of Dying with Dignity Canada, told CTV News.
But the Canadian Alzheimer’s Society is against the idea, as is Line Vincelli, who operates Residence Outremont, a home primarily for dementia patients.
She said offering assisted death like this puts the vulnerable at great risk.
“We should fight to help give them a good life before trying to end their life,” Vincelli said.
With a report by CTV News medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip