My grand-mother is 95 years old. She lives in a nursing home in Belgium, and we, her family, live on another continent. Last year, she became critically ill and told us she wanted to ask for euthanasia. Her doctor was against the idea, and then her health improved. We then used technology to better stay in touch with her. After that, she stopped talking about requesting euthanasia.
This year, on her birthday a few weeks ago, when we gave her best wishes, she said that the best wish would be that this was her last birthday. She was quite depressed after spending Christmas and New Year on her own. But we kept in touch with her, with several video calls each week. Her spirits lifted, she was happy, enthused and appeared relaxed on recent calls with her.
Today, she informs us that her only real friend at the residence, a “young woman of 75”, had requested euthanasia and her request had been approved on the basis of Parkinson’s. She is to be killed tomorrow.
My grand-mother is now extremely upset and distressed. She spoke about losing her only friend. She spoke of feeling alone and isolated. She spoke of the fact that maybe it was time for her to look at euthanasia again.
How many other residents in that home are feeling similarly? How many requests for euthanasia will happen in that nursing home in the next few weeks?
I have no hard data about “contagion effect”, but I see the very real impact her friend’s upcoming euthanasia has on my grand-mother.
There is no support in place for the residents. No one to speak to them, or to reassure them, other than the odd group presentation about why euthanasia is a good idea. (Link to previous article).
Meanwhile, in Canada, there is a Committee looking at how to implement “aid in dying”. And so far, we aren’t seeing anything about addressing the impact the “assisted death” of a nursing home resident would have on others, or the impact on the family left behind. We can’t let this go unaddressed.