1. Humphrey, Alice Anne NURSING STUDENT
  2. Warsh, Eunice BA, RN

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Assisted suicide should be an option

Yesterday, I buried my father after watching his slow decline from dementia. His mother had dementia, as do all of his siblings. I, my siblings, and all my cousins must face the fact that we're stuck with this genetic legacy. Some of us are beginning to plan for long-term care. Others, like me, are planning our deaths before we become dependent, empty shells. I'm luckier than most in this situation because my sister lives in Oregon, where I can establish residency at the necessary time to protect my helpers from prosecution.

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I was shocked to see so many letters to the editor denouncing physician-assisted suicide in response to your article on the issue ("Physician-assisted Suicide: A Nurse's Perspective," March 2014).* I must ask all of you to think about how you define life. We don't require our dogs and cats to suffer. Why are we kinder to our pets than we are to our relatives?


Most of the letters talked about modern solutions to mitigating pain, but there are many types of pain. Can you medicate away the sheer terror I frequently saw on my father's face when he forgot who he was, where he was, what he was doing, and who the people around him were? Once a voracious reader, he struggled to read a children's book; then he could no longer read at all. He could neither participate in conversations nor follow his beloved Mets play a game on TV. He couldn't play with his grandchildren or even recognize them. Everything that made my father who he was was gone, with zero chance of cure or recovery.


A devout Catholic, he would have chosen this path even if he'd had a choice. But more public discourse on this topic may have spurred him to plan better so that he didn't leave a widow who's physically, emotionally, and financially bankrupt.


Home healthcare: Expertise needed

Any home healthcare nurse with more than 60 days' experience can tell you there's a glaring omission in your recent article, "Considering Home Healthcare Nursing? (December 2014).* The author mentioned 2 years of medical-surgical experience. As a former home healthcare supervisor, I'd much prefer 2 to 3 years critical care experience, especially because many home healthcare patients have tracheostomy tubes and require mechanical ventilation. But a bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN) isn't absolutely necessary; none of my patients suffered any ill effects due to my lack of a BSN. Nope, what counts more is experience and common sense, and, we'd hope, a caring attitude.




Coram, N.Y.




Mobile, Ala.


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