As promised, the following is an update to my blog post of July 23, 2013, in which I wrote about a late-stage Alzheimer’s patient in British Columbia, Margaret Bentley, who is being spoon-fed contrary to the wishes set out in her “living will” (i.e. her Power of Attorney for Personal Care). Ms. Bentley’s family has recently commenced a lawsuit on her behalf in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The lawsuit alleges that the nursing home in which Ms. Bentley resides is violating her rights by spoon-feeding her contrary to the wishes she set out in her “living will”, which was drafted well before the onset of her illness.
It is reported by the Vancouver Sun that Ms. Bentley “has been institutionalized since 2005 and in a ‘vegetative’ state for at least three years”. The power of attorney for personal care (which is being referred to as her statement of wishes) was executed in 1991. Ms. Bentley was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1999 at the age of 68.The claim made on Ms. Bentley’s behalf also alleges that the behaviour of the nursing home constitutes battery.This matter is already expected to be precedent-setting, as it brings our end of life rights into the spotlight. For those of you who are as interested as I am to see the position the courts will take on this matter and to learn of the details surrounding it, this article posted by the Vancouver Sun outlines the details of Ms. Bentley’s situation. As you read this article, consider what you would want the outcome to be if you were in her place.On a final note, this case further demonstrates the importance of having your end of life wishes outlined in a properly executed written document (and by this I mean a power of attorney for personal care). Without such a written document, the difficulties currently being faced by Ms. Bentley’s family would surely be that much greater.