Hemlock Society Right-to-Die Video Library
This program on end-of-life options for those with Alzheimer's or dementia talks about the importance of advance directives, POLST and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) forms. We learn most surgeons won't allow DNR during the peri-operative period.
Hanna Wilder relates a heart-wrenching story about her mother-in-law, who has Alzheimer's. The story tells how the daughter (healthcare proxy) was pressured (guilt tripped) by a surgeon to perform a surgery the daughter was reluctant to approve of due to her mother's advance care directive. It illustrates how easily health care proxies can be pressured by the medical establishment to go against their instinct to say no.
Lisa Heikoff, M.D., geriatrician, stresses the importance of disclosing an Alzheimer's diagnosis in the early stages. She relates the surprising and major life change her brother-in-law made in the face of his early Alzheimer's diagnosis. She advises us that all of our local healthcare facilities are required to have bioethics committees. You can request a consultation if you are uncomfortable with a provider's recommendation. She also answers a question regarding decisional capacity. There are different levels depending on the complexity of the issue. She advises when there are questions about a person's decisional capacity after a diagnosis has been established, prior to them signing an important document, you should have them evaluated by an experienced neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist; one who has experience in determining decisional capacity. She also reminds us that institutions are required by regulations to feed a patient; making the Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED) method difficult to pull off if one is in an institution and cannot remember things.
Amy Abrams, MSW, MPH, tells us about the many educational programs the San Diego Alzheimer's Association has for patients and caregivers; and the distressing fact that approximately 50% of Alzheimer's patients have anosognosia, which is a complete unawareness of their illness.
Dr. Bob Uslander reminds us that we have the right to refuse medical treatment and relates a strategy to avoid unwanted trips to the emergency room when an elderly person is reaching the end-of-life stage.
We learned about options for using your body for good after you die, including tissue and organ donation, as well as body donation to universities for use by medical students to practice operations. Also dicussed were ways to save money on funeral costs and the many ways ashes from cremation can be incorporated into everyday items, including jewelry and even paint.
Sept. 16, 2017-Dying in the Age of Choice - presented to the San Diego Independent Scholars by Faye Girsh
Dr. Bob Uslander, MD. Dr. Bob is dedicated to helping people live with joy, and without fear and struggle, at any stage of life and especially in the face of challenging or terminal illness.
July 10, 2017 - California End of Life Option Act Panel Discussion
With Prop 64, which makes cannabis for recreational use legal for adults in California, coming online in 2018, it will be even more important than ever that people who wish to use cannabis medicinally are armed with accurate & responsible information.
March 19, 2017 - What If Your Heart Stops?
January 17, 2017 - Brittany Maynard's Mom Talks About her Daughter's Life and Chosen Death
Speaker: Mitsuo Tomita, M.D. Mits is long-time member of the Hemlock Society of San Diego and a physician retired from Kaiser . Dr. Tomita shared with us some of the findings from the first (as far as we know) conference ever held on VSED (vee-sed). It was mentioned in the talk that VSED can sometimes be faster (usually 6-13 days) than using the law when you consider the time spent trying to find willing doctors and waiting the required waiting times.
We apologize that the video of this talk is not available due to technical issues. Click this link to see a .pdf file of the slide presentation.
Phyllis Shachter's husband used VSED. She has a excellent website on choice in dying.
Speaker: Dr. Derryck Smith, Past President of the BC Medical Association and a past board member of the Canadian Medical Association. Dr. Smith is a Clinical Professor Emeritus with the Department of Psychiatry and is active in clinical teaching of medical students and residents. He is a past president of the Medical Legal Society and was Chair of the Board for the Greater Vancouver Mental Health Services Society and is a Dying With Dignity Canada Board Member.
Stroke is in the top 5 most common causes of death in the U.S. Many persons have a range of disabilities following a stroke. Learn about strokes and how they effect people, and the importance of quick treatment after a stroke. Advance Directives are particularly important in case of stroke, due to the sudden event.
Sally Hall, M.D., exit guide and member of the medical advisory committee of The Final Exit Network (FEN), provided information on the Final Exit Network, what it does, who is eligible, and the recommended procedures. She talks about dementia, depression and electroshock therapy.
Bob Uslander, M.D, a holistic hospice and palliative care doctor and patient advocate talks about hospice, the limitations of hospice, voluntary stopping eating and drinking (VSED) and terminal sedation. He explains his unique medical care management practice.
Discussion of the importance of advance directives, discussion of the provisions of it with your family and whether a memory care unit will honor those wishes and what the units are legally required to do. Dr. Stanley Terman also spoke about his Living Will.
Washington State's Death with Dignity Law and how it works was discussed with Robb Miller, former Executive Director of End of Life Washington (formerly Compassion and Choices) and Stefanie Elkins, California Medical Outreach Director.
The California End of Life Option Act is similar to the Washington law, but there are some differences. Under both laws, a diagnosis of 6 months or less to live is a requirement for eligibility, leaving many people unable to take advantage of this law.
Many people with terminal illnesses wait until they are in hospice and quite near the end of their lives before discussing aid in dying with their physician. Because of the legal built-in required waiting periods between requests for aid-in-dying, many people do not allow enough time to complete the process to obtain life-ending medication. For those interested in this option, it is recommended to start the process as soon as a terminal diagnosis is received. You are not required to take the medication, you can change your mind at any time. Having the medication gives many people peace of mind.
All aid in dying laws require the patient to self-administer the life ending medication and require a defined legal process. A physician is required. Physicians (and institutions) are permitted to opt-out of the process if they desire; finding resources can be problematic. As Robb succinctly pointed out, euthanasia (where someone delivers life ending medication TO you) is only available in the United States for those who don't want it - those sentenced to capital punishment. Robb also notes that since Washington's law passed in 1998, there has not been one instance of coercion reported, but many people have been coerced into staying alive.
Nov., 2015 Hemlock Society Meeting
Part 2, the Q&A session:
Video Q&A discusses:
Sept., 2015 Hemlock Society meeting
May 17th, 2015 Hemlock Society meeting
March, March 15, 2015: Pioneers of the Right To Die Movement
March, 2015, informal discussion between Faye Girsh and Derek Humphry on the right to die movement.
History of Right to Die Movement Informal Discussion, 2015
24 and Ready to Die