Belgium: what credit can be given to the anticipated declaration of patients suffering from dementia?

Publié le : 23 April 2013
Currently, in Belgium, the Senate is debating the extension of the law on euthanasia to people suffering from dementia, and on Thursday 11 April, a committee of senators held further hearings. The legislation in force "already allows access to euthanasia for people suffering from dementia provided that they are still mentally competent." But what if "a person who, having drawn up an anticipated declaration requesting euthanasia should he/she be stricken by dementia, then refuses it once the disease sets in”? According to Patrick Cras, a neurologist at Antwerp University, this question arises soon after the diagnosis and mainly involves "the irreversible and degenerative aspects of a disease such as Alzheimer’s." Manfredi Ventura, a neurologist at the Grand Hôpital de Charleroi, says that "the question of the competence to still make judgements or express one’s intention is raised, notably because the more the disease progresses, the less the patient is involved in the issue and the less he/she seems to be suffering."

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