An Alzheimer’s diagnosis: Diane’s wish to die on her terms 

Personal Stories | February 17, 2023 | Trish Mason

Home / Personal Stories / An Alzheimer’s diagnosis: Diane’s wish to die on her terms 
A professional photo of Diane that she had taken after her Alzheimer's diagnosis

My mother, Diane, was an active 76-year-old who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2020. Her biggest fear was ending up in a nursing home not knowing who she was or who her family members were. My mom put it simply, she wanted to die on her terms before the disease got too bad. 
The process itself had a lot of checks and balances. As her caregiver, I was not involved in the decision-making meetings, they were solely between the clinicians and my mother, as they should be. The medical assistance in dying (MAID) assessors made sure my mother was of sound mind and making the decision for herself, not being influenced by others.  
Not everyone in our small family agreed with her decision but in the end, everyone came together to help my mom pass peacefully and surrounded by her immediate family. 
Unfortunately, my mother had to choose a date for her MAID provision that was earlier than she wanted. With a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, there is the fear that the person will lose the capacity to consent to the procedure, and so many people chose a date with this in mind, but earlier than they might want. This is why I support advance requests for MAID. 

Diane and her grandchildren on Christmas Day

My mother is the third generation in her family to have suffered from dementia or Alzheimer’s and as her 53-year-old daughter, I am keenly interested in the MAID process if I find out I have the disease. I personally do not want the disease to take over my life and mind in the later stages. I do not want my son and grandchildren to see me when I am no longer myself. I want to be able to put in writing my wish to have an assisted death should I develop a condition like dementia that puts my decision-making capacity at risk. 
I believe there has been a lot of negative and uninformed media coverage of the benefits of MAID. My mother was suffering; she would cry when she couldn’t remember a simple task or thought I left her at a store or restaurant. She was an independent, smart woman who survived the loss of her husband to cancer and became a younger widow. She worked hard, and ran her own successful businesses in the Niagara Region for many years. 
Mom left this earth peacefully on October 6, 2022, surrounded by family. 
My personal goal is to help spread the word about the availability of MAID, especially to early-stage Alzheimer’s patients in Ontario. Clinicians involved in my mother’s care did not talk about this end-of-life option available to her in the two years leading up to her planned death. I only found out by accident on the Alzheimer Canada website. Some family members told me not to tell my mother about MAID because of their religious beliefs. I am a strong advocate to allow Canadians to make up their own mind if MAID is right for their circumstances. 
I support MAID as an option for Canadians to alleviate suffering from life-limiting medical conditions such as dementia. I also encourage the government to make advance requests for MAID legal so we can put in writing all our end-of-life wishes. 

Watch our webinar on Dementia, MAID, and other end-of-life options for more information.

Write a letter to your Member of Parliament in support of advance requests for MAID through our digital letter-writing tool

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