Families must not have the right to play executioner

Relatives are too close for objectivity. Doctors are fallible. And society is intolerant of frailty. That’s why a judge was correct to rule a brain-damaged woman should be allowed to live

High Court judge Mr Justice Baker has ruled that a brain-damaged 52-year-old woman in a ‘minimally conscious state’ should be kept alive, denying her family’s request to withdraw the life support sustaining her.

We have much to thank him for in making this judgment. 

He has not only upheld the legal presumption that exists in favour of preserving life — and which has been under such sustained attack in recent years — but he has also done so in a case that poignantly illustrates exactly why this presumption should remain.

Full article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2043582/Families-right-play-executioner.html

If ever there were proof of the folly of doctors playing God, it’s this man’s barbaric death

Last Christmas, I attended a carol service at a church in London. Amid the festive bustle, I sat opposite a woman and her elderly mother.

The daughter placed a tender hand on her mother’s shoulder and gently guided her through the carols, helping her remember words that were now fading from the old lady’s memory.

I watched as the daughter looked after this tiny, fragile little bird of a mother — so frail she looked as if a puff of wind might have blown her away.

Full article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1220221/ROS-COWARD-If-proof-folly-doctors-playing-God-mans-barbaric-death.html

The health service’s dementia shame

I can identify with John Suchet’s brave and moving discussion of coping with his wife’s disease. Sufferers have too little support

John Suchet has done an incredibly brave thing talking so openly about his wife’s dementia because, as he himself said, it isn’t his illness, it’s hers. And that could be seen as “a betrayal”. Why “betrayal”? After all, he spoke so movingly and so tenderly about her and his grief at losing her this way, and there was nothing disrespectful at all in what he said about her.

The answer is that when you are dealing with someone with dementia you never really know how much they know – or remember – about what has been said about them. And if his wife could, or does, remember something of what has been said, she might feel shame.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/feb/17/dementia-health-service

Lorna Page: the write stuff

A 93-year-old’s novel has allowed her to escape the fate that most of us, when elderly, most fear. Let’s celebrate her

Lorna Page’s success has clearly touched a chord. The 93-year-old has just sold her first novel and spent the proceeds on buying a large home to share with her elderly friends. At first glance, the story’s appeal is to the secret scribblers among us. They say that there’s a novel in everyone and many people, myself included, like to believe that one day we’ll have the time and space to coax it out of ourselves. Moreover, we like to imagine that it is going to be a success. Realistically, though, we also probably think if we haven’t written it by 50 we probably never will. Page’s success is like suddenly getting a reprieve.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/aug/13/socialcare.health

Young victims count too

If only police and politicians took the mugging of teenagers as seriously as the car-jacking of Mercedes

Official responses to the recent well-publicised car-jackings speak volumes about who and what this society is prepared to protect. Scotland Yard has now been given the go ahead to deploy 11 “elite armed response vehicles”, manned by marksmen wearing protective clothing and armed with rifles and handguns.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2002/feb/12/ukcrime.comment