The Current

Is it unethical to feed someone against their wishes?

The daughter of a B.C. woman with late-stage dementia says she's angry her mother is still being fed at a nursing home even though her living will specifically declines taking nourishment.
The daughter of a B.C. woman with late-stage dementia says she's angry her mother is still being fed at a nursing home even though her living will specifically declines taking nourishment. But where do doctors and caregivers who force people to consume nourishment draw the line legally and morally? 




If at such a time, there is no reasonable expectation of my recovery from extreme physical or mental disability, I direct that I be allowed to die. No nourishment or liquids.Margot Bentley's advanced medical directive


Few people knew better than Margot Bentley what to expect from an Alzheimer's diagnosis. As a nurse, she'd cared for Alzheimer's patients and watched as they deteriorated. So when she was diagnosed with the condition herself in 1999 she knew what lay ahead.

Hammond_HeadShot.jpgKatherine Hammond - Margot Bentley's daughter

Today, Margot Bentley is unable to walk, to talk or recognize her own children. She lives at the Maplewood Residential Care Home, where staff feed her three times a day. Her family and doctor want that to stop since they believe this is exactly what Margot Bentley was trying to avoid. We spoke to Bentley's daughter Katherine Hammond, who was in Ladner, B.C.

Cherry Harriman - Fraser Health Authority

Cherry Harriman is the Director of the Residential Care and Assisted Living Program with the Fraser Health Authority. The agency runs the home where Mrs. Bentley lives. Harriman agreed to speak with us from Surrey, B.C. about the principles guiding the authority's decisions but not specifically about Bentley's care.

Pat Murphy - Clinical ethicist, St. Boniface General Hospital

Deciding how to treat patients who can no longer make decisions can be an ethical minefield. For a clearer look at the debate we spoke to Pat Murphy, a clinical ethicist at St. Boniface General Hospital. She was in Winnipeg.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry and Shannon Higgins.

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