Assisted Suicide in the Eyes of Dementia- Sandy Bem’s Decline Through Alzheimer’s


How powerful a presence is her absence:
No Sheba naps, curled on the counterpane,
Or sits by the window to memorize the rain,
Or tussles with the tassels of a valance
With tigress energy and murderous talons,
Or attends with steady gaze the slow routine
Of household duties droning round again
From her vigilant bookshelf eminence.

The armchair seems not empty but incomplete
And the patch of sunlit rug unoccupied
More vacant than the sky when the moon is hid
In the cavern of December’s longest night.

The rooms were quiet when she was resident.
Now they lie silent. That is different.

Fred Chappell

“When Sandy Bem found out she had Alzheimer’s, she resolved that before the disease stole her mind, she would kill herself. The question was, when?” Robin Marantz Henig wrote a beautiful piece for The New York Times Magazine examining this question in the lives of Sandy Bem and those around her, discussing the treatment, and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, it’s effect on those suffering the decline as well as those witnessing it, and the decision to end one’s own life before the disease can take it from them. As someone who has seen the cognitive decline first hand, I’ve often asked a similar question: which is more important, a longer life, or a higher quality of life? Is it better to live another month or year and spend another day with your loved ones at the cost of your personal dignity, or end that journey while you’re still yourself and write a better memory for those you leave behind?

Read the full article here.

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