Voluntary stopping of eating and drinking, or VSED, is a form of assisted suicide that is commonly chosen by the elderly. It is especially enticing to the terminally ill, those that have only 6 more months to live, and to sufferers of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
For many, VSED exit is a viable option. It has no legal consequences and requires no legal permission. Here’s what’s there to understand about VSED, its impact on an elderly patient, and the family left behind.
VSED is a decision made by an elderly to stop from eating and drinking with the sole purpose of death. Individuals who have stopped eating because of lack of appetite caused by an illness don’t count as VSED. Individuals who can’t eat on their own, but are rather fed through feeding tubes, are also not considered VSED.
In VSED, there has to be a voluntary choice on the part of an individual. However, because majority of VSED participants are elderly, they choose to undergo VSED with the help of healthcare professionals. Because of this, VSED is sometimes considered as an assisted suicide.
However, unlike most assisted suicide methods, VSED don’t have any legal requirements. An elderly wishing to undergo VSED doesn’t have to be proven mentally incapacitated or ill with a terminal disease. Not even a physician’s authorization or governmental action is needed. What’s needed then?
How VSED Works
An elderly however, should have the right, solid determination to go through the entire process of VSED. Support from the elderly’s family is also of utmost importance.
At a minimum, the process of VSED could end in as little as five to seven days. At most, an elderly could die after two to three weeks. The length of the VSED process varies between individuals. Age, nutritional status, and illness are factors that can speed up or slow down the dying process.
A VSED exit provides an option to hasten death through dehydration. At first, VSED goes through a smooth start. Slowly, energy levels would go down and mental alertness would slip away. By the third day without water, an elderly will alternate being in and out of consciousness. Without water though, the body can’t survive for long.
By the time symptoms of dehydration starts to show, a healthcare professional, usually a nurse, would administer shots of morphine. This is to stop the pain caused by the loss of water in the body. Mainly however, morphine is used to control discomfort for the elderly.
Making the Right Decision
The effects of a VSED exit are different in every case. While it may provide a graceful, dignified death to some, it is gruesome and painful to others. Whatever it may lead to though, the elderly should have all the support they need as they go through VSED.