Provoking the debate on euthanasia in dementia with design.
Dementia affects 47 million people worldwide. It is a collection or consequence of many illnesses with symptoms including deterioration in memory, thinking and behaviour; it is a terminal disease. The fear of dementia leads people to request euthanasia. Euthanasia in dementia rarely happens because the dementia symptoms conflict with the due care criteria; a person requesting euthanasia must confirm the request at time of death and must be undergoing hopeless suffering. Once dementia has progressed, the euthanasia ‘wish’ can no longer be confirmed, and assessing suffering in a person with dementia is hard. Having a reliable dementia diagnosis is essential in order to be able to make a decision for an ‘early’ euthanasia. This paper describes a Speculative Design to explore what options should be considered for receiving a dementia diagnosis in order to plan a death. A branding strategy was developed for the Planned Death company, who advocate an early diagnosis for making end-of-life decisions. The branding includes company identity, website, diagnostic kit, diagnostic delivery strategy, and end-of-life support. Additionally a short documentary was developed describing the Planned Death Company’s motivation and a client testimonial. Responses to the documentary were collected with a carefully selected group of participants through a survey and in-depth interviews. The responses were rich and sparked debate. Many new questions arose to do with patient autonomy and social structures.