End-of-Life Controversy: Voluntarily Stop Eating


Recent news about end-of-life options

The New York Times recently wrote about the end-of-life option of “voluntarily stopping eating and drinking” or VSED. This is a controversial topic with strong feelings on both sides. Some people want to prolong life at all costs and still others feel that painful suffering or poor quality of life isn’t worth living through.


What is VSED?

Basically, VSED is when someone who is unable to eat or drink on their own doesn’t get hand-fed or help drinking liquids. After some time of no food or drink, they will pass away. The New York Times says that “several medical studies have reported that, with proper oral and palliative care, it can also be a comfortable way to die.”

This is different from people refuse food or liquids because they are in the process of dying. That’s a natural part of the body shutting down to prepare for death and isn’t something the person is voluntarily choosing to do.


Who would want VSED?

Jerome Medalie is an active, independent 88 year old man. In this article, he talks about not wanting to die a long, slow death from Alzheimer’s or dementia. He’s included his preference for VSED in his advance directive. He says, “If I’m not me, I don’t want to be.”


Important legal issues

The legal status of specifying VSED in an advance directive is unknown. Some people have stated that they choose VSED in certain situations, but some facilities have refused to let it happen because it goes against their rules.


Bottom line

The legal and ethical debate over VSED as an end-of-life choice made in advance will probably continue for a long time. Still, it’s a great way to start a conversation with your older adult about their end-of-life wishes. If you’ve been trying to get them to write their living will, this might be a good way to get the ball rolling.


Next Step  Read the full article at the New York Times


By DailyCaring Editorial Staff
Image: Themes.com


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