Who knows us better than ourselves? We know what we like, we don’t like, or how much of each is acceptable or what is not. We have a mind. We have a say to the choices we make each day. But what happens when the cognitive function is no longer there for us to dictate & to command others about the way we live?
Dementia in the most severe stage robs a person of the ability to carry out the simplest activities of daily living. The inability to function at the most basic of levels is hard to comprehend. The devastation robs much more than just memories. It destroys the very fabric of what it means to be human; the ability to think. This ability to reason & think is how evolution has makes us top of the primordial chain.
Looking on at what it means to have little to no cognitive function left must open the question to whether ”Vegetative state” ought to be further defined. Being advanced in age, physiologically, poses limitations to aspects like muscle strength, concentration & stamina but not necessarily mean decline or loss of cognitive function. Vegetative state or brain death has legally been associated with the loss of cognitive function. Where voluntary brain activity ceases, brain death is assumed & courts have been asked for authority to turn off ventilators or to stop treatment. Here, in cases of severe dementia, it may be time for the legal process to look again at the very definition of vegetative state & brain death in light of the explosion of cases throughout the world. Legally, where there is no cognitive function, the brain is dead - and this cannot be better highlighted by cases of severe dementia when the brain matter is being hollowed out leaving no means of active reversal.
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