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If I Ever Lose My Mind

With aid in dying becoming an increasingly available and legal option for the terminally ill, conversations and decisions about end-of-life choices are more frequently an essential part of our healthcare landscape. However, those with severe dementia are not yet legally eligible for such aid. By examining the moving stories of those who have faced the abyss of long-term dementia, the author, a retired Episcopal priest, makes the case that dementia and Alzheimer’s patients should also have legal access to aid in dying.

The book is framed by the highly personal story of the author’s experience of her father’s affliction by dementia, relating what really happened, and imagining how it might have gone in a scenario where aid in dying was legal. Helpful practical material is included, such as terms, definitions, and sample legal documents, along with a discussion of current and past moral thinking on suicide and assisted death, compiled from interviews with family members, doctors, lawyers, and clergy—those who would have a stake in such decisions—and from research in scholarly and popular sources.

Aid in dying with dementia is a thorny issue that will continue to demand our attention as growing numbers of us are afflicted, and as the financial, emotional, and spiritual resources needed for care grow ever larger. This book is a much needed and compassionate contribution to our ongoing conversation about quality of life and how we meet death.

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