Recently, the board for End Of Life Choices New York approved an aggressive new document that would allow individuals to stipulate in advance that they may refuse food and water should they develop dementia at some point. The goal of the directive is to allow individuals to speed up their death in late-stage dementia, if they so choose.
Despite being considered a terminal illness, states that already have end of life directives in place do not have laws that cover the condition, putting the new policy into uncharted ethical waters that have not been explored. The move comes as patients across New York and the rest of the country seek alternative options to address the very real possibility that they may become incapacitated with a severely debilitating condition.
The new document would allow patients one of two options should they find themselves in an assisted living situation with dementia. The first would allow patients to accept so-called comfort feeding by providing oral food and water if they patient appears willing to accept the nourishment. The second, would stipulate that the patient would receive no food or water, even if he or she appears to accept the feedings during the final stages of dementia.