Remembering Audrey Parker

Originally posted

Does her name sound familiar? Audrey was 57 years old when she died last month, by her own choice and with medical assistance. She had been diagnosed 2 years earlier with incurable cancer and had chosen to die on her own terms- except she really didn’t.

In her own words: “people like me are dying earlier than necessary because of this poorly thought out law” which requires the ‘suffering person to be competent immediately before life-ending treatment is administered’.

Ms. Parker had previously been ‘Assessed and Approved’ for assisted dying but because of the advances of her cancer and the high risk that she would lose her capacity, she opted to end her days before she actually wanted to. In my view this is a tragic story. Last week I attended a Dying with Dignity webinar highlighting some of the advances and key challenges that Canadians continue to face around Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) and Bill C-14, the federal law on medical assistance. One of the most pressing issues of concern is around advance planning for those with dementia. An earlier polls conducted by Ipsos Reid, reported that 8 in 10 Canadians agree that individuals with a ‘grievous and irremediable medical condition, including patients with dementia, should be permitted to consent to assisted death in advance. Specifically the question is whether a ‘still competent patient with a serious degenerative illness should be allowed to make an advance request for assisted death that could be carried out when he or she is no longer competent.’ Today this issue is more prevalent than ever. As we age, more and more of us will be likely living with dementia. The question is whether we can choose to die with dementia- on our own terms. Something to think about…

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