A new study claims that nine out of ten Quebec caregivers want to extend the province’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) law to patients with dementia.
The study, presented by Université de Sherbrooke epidemiologist Gina Bravo at World Alzheimer’s Day conference in Montreal this week, involved 302 caregivers from across Quebec and a dozen Alzheimer’s chapters of the Fédération Québécoise des Sociétés Alzheimer. Bravo asked respondents if they support the idea of assisted dying for individuals suffering from dementia who are at the terminal state of their illness, who are showing signs of distress and who have an advance written directive.
According to Bravo, 91% of respondents supported extending the law to patients with dementia, while 72% of respondents said they were favourable to it even in the absence of a written directive.
Currently, MAiD is not permitted for patients who cannot make a request in a “free and informed manner”, thus excluding patients with dementia. In March, however, Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette announced that a parliamentary commission will consider the merits of allowing patients with dementia to give “advanced consent” to medically assisted death.
Bravo said that that the purpose of the study was not “to vote for or against [the issue]”, and she acknowledged that “the difficulties of applying such a law [i.e. one that permits MAiD for demented patients] cannot be ignored.”
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