On Avoiding Deep Dementia

26 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2018

Date Written: August 13, 2018


The scourge of Alzheimer's is daunting. For me, the specter of being mired in progressively degenerative dementia is an intolerably degrading prospect. One avoidance tactic – suicide while still competent – risks a premature demise while still enjoying a tolerable lifestyle. The question arises whether an alternative tactic – an advance directive declining all life-sustaining intervention once a certain point of debilitation is reached – might be preferable as a device to avoid a prolonged, unwanted limbo. My article in the forthcoming Hastings Center Report (HCR) presents the legal and moral foundation for my advance directive declining even simplistic interventions at a relatively early stage of post-competence cognitive decline. It is titled “On Avoiding Deep Dementia” and the cite is 48:4 HCR (July/August 2018). A final draft is attached, including excerpts from my own directive. HCR solicited 3 commentaries on my article from several bioethicists, including Rebecca Dresser and Daniel Sulmasy. Those commentaries appear in the same HCR edition.

Keywords: Advance Directives, End of Life, Dementia, Alzheimer's, Law & Medicine, Medical Jurisprudence

Suggested Citation

Cantor, Norman L., On Avoiding Deep Dementia (August 13, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3229909 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3229909

Norman L. Cantor (Contact Author)

Rutgers University School of Law ( email )

Newark, NJ
United States
201-653-4547 (Phone)

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