High Court overrules daughter of man with dementia

Family Law|June 24th 2016

A frail 83 year-old with dementia should be allowed to “die with dignity”, the High Court has ruled.

Sitting at the Court of Protection, Mr Justice Keehan said he was confident the man’s Christian faith would lead him to “accept death as God’s will”.

His daughter, by contrast, had insisted that if he would have wanted his life to be prolonged if he had been able to express his wishes. She is her father’s primary carer and holds a lasting power of attorney for his health and welfare.

She complained that a ‘do not resuscitate’ order placed on her father by Great Western Hospital in Swindon had caused “immeasurable distress” to her and her family, telling the court:

“I know he would have been adamant that every effort should be taken to prolong his life and that only God should decide when it is his time.”

But her half-brother took a different view, saying their father, referred to as ‘GH’, would not want to be kept alive artificially in circumstances where “he would feel he had no dignity“.

In addition to advanced dementia, the man also suffers from high blood pressure, pneumonia and diabetes.

The hospital had applied for a declaration that it would be lawful to withhold cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if the man suffered a heart attack. Mr Justice Keehan agreed, saying attempts to revive him would not be in GH’s best interests.

“He has a right to die peacefully with dignity and should be permitted to do so”.

The Judge continued:

“From all I know of GH, and what I have read and heard about him, I have little doubt that he will accept death as God’s will.”

The ruling has not yet been published.

Image by SmartSign via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Author: Stowe Family Law

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