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We must think carefully about euthanasia

I WAS very moved and saddened by the story of Bill and Anne Barbour, whose lives ended in a 'mercy killing' and a suicide (News, September 28).

However, I would urge anyone facing the onset of dementia or Alzheimer's disease in a loved-one to think carefully before embarking on such a drastic solution.

My mother, who is now 92 years old, very gradually declined in her mid-80s and our family agonised over the decision to move her from her home to a residential care home.

Although the eventual transition was upsetting for her and for my brothers and sisters, after a short time Mum managed to settle into a new routine and we were all quite relieved that she was safely being cared for and watched over 24/7 by trained staff - a commitment none of us could have undertaken.

I agree, Alzheimer's can rob people of their personality and dignity, but most illnesses and hospitalisation are not very dignified experiences.

Perhaps there is something to be learned here about humility and the bearing of our sufferings in life.

It is not for me to judge the actions of these two good people, but, nevertheless, the issues they raise about life and suffering, and rights and responsibilities, are of universal importance.

ATTRACTA WALSH

Portstewart, Co Londonderry

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