Dilbert’s Creator’s Dad’s Death

Written by on November 28, 2013 in Blog with 0 Comments

Dear Friends,

I wasn’t going to start blogging so soon, but I can’t pass up the opportunity to comment on an item that came to my attention today.

On Saturday, the 23rd, Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, posted a blog about his father’s dying  ( http://www.dilbert.com/blog/entry/?EntryID=986&Page=5  ).  His dad’s mind was “98 % gone” and he was in a hospital bed for some days in “living Hell.”  Scott goes on, “If my dad were a cat, we would have put him to sleep long ago.” That is, Scott believes there should have been a way for him to end his dad’s misery.  He blames the politicians who voted against doctor-assisted euthanasia for his dilemma.

Scott, there was a way.

Before I get to that, I wish to point out that physician assisted euthanasia (some call it suicide), even in those states that allow it (Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont), isn’t available to a patient who has lost his or her mental facilities.   To avail oneself of this option, one must be with it mentally, not just when the request is made, but when, after the prescribed waiting period, one takes the “hemlock” prescribed by the physician  — the patient must self administer it.  So Scott’s dad could not have had physician assistance even if it had been available in his state.

But there IS a way to take action when one isn’t capable of making his or her own decisions.

This way is available in all states, and is commonly called either a “living will with durable power of attorney,” or an “advance health care directive.”   To create it there must be planning when one is still mentally capable of making decisions.   In such a document one authorizes an agent (also called a proxy) to make decisions for him or her when he or she isn’t able to do so.   Wishes are set forth for what one wants or doesn’t want when things get really bad.  The agent is obligated to carry out those wishes.  The doctors and hospitals are obligated to listen to the agent and carry out the wishes (though sometimes they don’t).  The wishes can include removing all life support so one dies a natural death, or, speaking to Scott’s situation, the wish can include withholding food and fluid until the end comes.  This is not painful if done with palliative (hospice) care.  For more info, to go PLANNING and the sources cited there.

Scott, I am indeed very sorry that you and your dad hadn’t been told of this when your dad was able to carry it out.

The purpose of my website, its advance directive, and this blog is to get more and more people planning in this fashion – that is,  doing two things – talking to close family members about what his or her wishes are, and giving authority to someone to make decisions when he or she can not.

Bill Simmons

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