Commentary: Can an effective end-of-life intervention for advanced dementia be viewed as moral?

Trijntje Scheeres_Feitsma, Jenny T. Steen, van der, Johannes J.M. van Delden, E.P. Schaafsma

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We comment on Dr. Terman's considerations on the moral justification of ceasing assisted feeding and hydration for people with advanced dementia. The core idea of his paper is that an advance directive can solve future dilemmas regarding assisted feeding. We submit that this static instrument is unfit for the complex and dynamic nature of assessing how to deal with refusals to eat, in particular for people with dementia. It overvalues the past in relation to the present situation and leaves no room for the possibility of changing wishes. Moreover, the perspectives of professional caregivers and families are not addressed because the focus is entirely on individual autonomy in early dementia. Multiple perspectives should be considered in interpreting directives and the actual situation in light of the patient's view of life in order to realistically account for what is morally justifiable in care in advanced dementia.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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