Many of us have an advance directive or health care power of attorney. All of us should have one. It sets out what you want to happen in as far as your health care is concerned at the end of life.

There are several states with Physician Assisted Suicide laws and in NM there is a case that is presently before the NM Supreme Court. Morris v. Brandenburg.

The problem is that these laws and cases seem to require that you be competent, which may be difficult, especially if you are unconscious or have dementia.

Compassion & Choices has come up with a “Dementia Clause” that is either a separate document or included in your Advance Directive. Visit their website to determine what your state allows for end-of-life decisions.

Dementia does not seem to be a problem for the person with dementia; but is a horrible financial, mental and emotional problem for family members and loved ones.

l do not know if the “Dementia Clause”  has been tested, but if you believe in it, what have you got to lose.? Basically it provides by reference to your “My Particular Wishes” or advance directive, that you do not want food or water and that you want to be comfortable. If it doesn’t work, you are in the same place that you would have been in if you didn’t have it; if it does work, you are saved from a horrible existence. It is your choice and you are not an impossible burden on your family.

Don’t listen to me! Ask your physician and your attorney?  Some hospitals may not honor this, if so you will have to trust to hospice or your family.

It does seem that you have the right to refuse food and hydration, but remember that sometimes prisoners are force-fed and hydrated while on hunger strikes.

The idea is for you to decide, with professional advice, while you are competent. You want to avoid courts, law suits and  undue bureaucratic fuss.

Here is the language from the Compassion & Choices form:

“If I am unconscious and it is unlikely that I will ever become conscious again, I would like my wishes regarding specific life-threataiuing treatments, as indicated on the attached document entitled My Particular Wishes to be followed.

If I remain conscious but have a progressive illness that will be fatal and the illness is in an advanced stage, and I am consistently and permanently unable communicate, swallow food and water safely, care for myself and recognize my family and other people, and it is very unlikely that my condition will substantially improve, I would like my wishes regarding specific life-sustaining treatments, as indicated on the attached document entitled My Particular Wishes , to be followed.

If I am unable to feed thyself while in this condition:

I do/do not (circle one) want to be fed.

I do/do not (circle one) want to be given fluids.

I hereby incorporate this provision into my durable power of attorney for health care, living will and any other previously executed advance directive for health care decisions.
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