Linda Fairbrother and Colin Brewer respond to Henk Blanken’s long read on the limits of legal euthanasia

Henk Blanken (The difficulty of dying well, 10 August) suggests that the responsibility for authorising euthanasia should lie with a “loved one”. I doubt this would work any better than leaving it to a doctor. My elderly mother coped with my father’s progressing dementia for six years, though the task was becoming impossible, because she could not bear to place him in a dementia unit. She finally agreed to do so only after the local hospital told her she must not take him back home after a minor stroke. This took away the burden of guilt at “abandoning” him. If it was hard for my mother to put her husband in a care home, how much harder, even impossible, would it be for anyone in similar circumstances to decide their loved one should die on their say-so, however rational that decision might be?
Linda Fairbrother

• Alzheimer’s is now the single most common cause of death in Britain. If severely affected, most Britons would not want treatment for life-threatening illnesses. A 2007 survey found that more than 60% would not wish to be resuscitated after a heart attack....

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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19 April 2019