Physician-assisted death or Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) is legal in eight jurisdictions, including Colorado. Kim Mooney of Practically Dying, demystifies the law, which is in its second year. Listen to Kim break down the structure and function of MAID, and field questions from Boulder Rotary Club in her February 2019 address ‘Dying to Stay in Charge.

People are more afraid of dying, than they are of death.

And with good reason. Until recently the medical default was to prolong life at all cost.

Death is a natural part of life, and when you learn that… it changes your entire life. It is the truth we are all living with. We’re not afraid of death, we don’t know what to do with it.

When you begin to really entertain your own mortality, two things happen:

  • You can stop the end of your life from being a runaway medical emergency, and consequently creating a negative legacy for your family and loved ones.
  • You can live your life completely differently every single day.

This law is the biggest paradigm shift in the field of medicine in our lifetimes.

Whether you approve of MAID or not, it is important to understand it.

Opponents of the law contend that it’s getting in the way of good health care; that it’s a sin, a failure and it puts us on a ‘slippery slope,’ marginalizing elderly populations in particular.

Many states call it “physician assisted suicide” which is a loaded phrase.

Proponents of the law believe it’s a long-awaited opportunity to get autonomy back from the medical system ‘default’ to keep bodies alive beyond their natural life expectancy.

Are we prolonging life, or prolonging death?

We keep bodies going, when there is no one left in there…  For the dying and their loved ones, that can be a real burden.

Death takes place in all kinds of cultures and communities, and therefore requires different emotional, mental and spiritual interventions.

People want to be in charge of when and how things are going to happen. Kim explains that there are three parts to having a ‘good’ death:

1) the medical aspect
2) the psycho-social aspect (grief)
3) death mechanics (body disposal, cost)

95% of patients who use the Medical Aid in Dying law are in hospice.

This is the right law for the right person.  And it’s psychological insurance for many who receive the medication, but don’t ever end up taking it. One must go through a rigorous assessment to even qualify for physician assisted death.

There are four requirements for eligibility:

  1. You must be an adult, and resident of the state of CO.
  2. You must be diagnosed as terminally ill.
  3. You must have decisional capacity.
  4. You must be able to self-administer the drug.

The most important thing about death is the life that came before it.

Further your understanding of Colorado’s Medical Aid in Dying ActContact Kim Mooney, certified Thanatologist, end-of-life consultant and founder of Practically Dying to learn more about her professional education series, workshops and private consultations.

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