Dutch Consider Law to Allow Assisted Suicide for Elderly Not Sick; In Italy, Large Numbers Living Beyond 90

The Dutch government is going to draft a new proposal to allow any elderly person  to take his or her life if they no longer want to live.  The Netherlands which has been one of the most liberal countries with assisted suicide has long allowed it for those who are terminally ill.    Assisted suicide has been available in Holland since 2001 and 4% of deaths, over 5000 people every year, take advantage of the law.    The law has been expanded to allow for those with dementia and mental illness to be euthanized.

Under the new proposal which has not been finally drafted, those who are feeling their lives are “complete”  would have the ability to take their own life even if they are not sick, The intent is to provide relief from undefined suffering that may not be attributed to a terminal illness.  There would be a process for third party evaluation.   The proposal does not have an age attached to it.

No states in this country which currently allow assisted suicide have gone as far at the Netherlands.  Some advocates for it are discussing whether to extend to one year the qualification that a person have a terminal illness with six months to live.


Meanwhile, the New York Times  reported this week that in Acciaroli Italy, older people are thriving with 1 in 60 in one section of the country living into their 90s and beyond.  That is in contrast to about 1 in 163 in the United States.  The diet and lifestyle of those in this area living near in a mild climate near the sea are considered as factors as well as a strong sense of community.  Studies are being conducted about genetic characteristics and the diet of those in the area.    Researchers are examining the high use of the herb rosemary in the area which has been shown to aid brain function.  There is a low incidence of Alzheimers in the area.  A doctor at a local university said, “At 95, they have brains more like someone who is 50 and, at 50, you’re still thinking a lot about sex.”


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I have been a senior advocate for most of my career. I was Executive Director of the New York StateWide Senior Action Council and the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans. In 2007-2010 I was the Director of the New York State Office for the Aging

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