Many people who suffer from dementia appear to be suffering greatly at the end of their lives, because the dementia has progressed to the point where they have become completely incapacitated. Consequently, they can no longer perform the basic tasks of “daily living” necessary to survive and cannot express their wishes regarding how they would like to be treated.
A dementia victim can live for a long time, if fed and given water. With the ready availability of advanced medical directives, it might seem easy to get one, whereby you refuse food and/or water if you are incapacitated by dementia. However, you cannot provide that advanced directive, unless you happen to live in New York, because it recently became the first state to allow this option as NPR reports in "'Aggressive' Advance Directive Permits Halting Food and Water In Sever Dementia."
People in New York will now have two options. They can direct that they continue to be given food and water, if it appears that they accept and enjoy it. They can also direct that they not be given food and water at all. It is hoped that the new directive will allow people suffering from advanced dementia to pass away more quickly, if that is what they choose in advance.
If this law works well in New York, it could become available in other states. It is still a good idea to get advanced medical directives, even if this particular option is not available in your state of residence.
Anyone over 18 should have an advanced healthcare directives. It allows another person to make healthcare decisions for you when you cannot. It also allows you to decide in advance whether you want to be off the life supporting system when you are in a vegetative state. Many people assume that that when they are unable to make healthcare decisions for themselves, their family members such as spouses, children, and parents would automatically have the right to make decision for themselves. Unfortunately, this is not the case most of the time. Furthermore, the lack of an advanced healthcare directives can lead to family disputes and even lawsuits over who has the right to make healthcare decisions for the incapacitated person. If you don’t have an advanced healthcare directives yet, please see an estate planning attorney for advice.
Reference: NPR (March 29, 2018) "'Aggressive' Advance Directive Permits Halting Food and Water In Sever Dementia."