By Norman L. Cantor
Harvard Law Blog
Originally posted December 2, 2015
I am obsessed with avoiding severe dementia. As a person who has always valued intellectual function, the prospect of lingering in a dysfunctional cognitive state is distasteful — an intolerable indignity. For me, such mental debilitation soils the remembrances to be left with my survivors and undermines the life narrative as a vibrant, thinking, and articulate figure that I assiduously cultivated. (Burdening others is also a distasteful prospect, but it is the vision of intolerable indignity that drives my planning of how to respond to a diagnosis of progressive dementia such as Alzheimers).
I suggest that while a demented persona no longer recalls the values underlying the AD and cannot now be offended by breaches of value-based instructions, those considered instructions are still worthy of respect. As noted, the well established mechanism — an AD – is intended to enable a person to govern the medical handling of their future demented self. And the values and principles underlying advance instructions can certainly include factors beyond the patient’s contemporaneous well being.
The entire blog post is here.