This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes has made the startling confession that, if he were to get dementia, he would want to be taken to the assisted dying facility, Dignitas, in Switzerland, before the disease progresses.
The 58-year-old, who regularly shares the screen with wife Ruth Langsford, acknowledged the controversial statement, but remained defiant in explaining it’s what he would want.
Of a possible dementia diagnosis, Eamonn said, “It’s what everyone dreads. It’s a long, lonely walk – one I would never want to go on.
“I genuinely say to all my children and my wife, ‘Take me to Switzerland and press the red button. That is what I want.’”
He continued, “I have no desire to lose my dignity. I just don’t want that to happen to me. However controversial that may sound, that is my genuine wish.”
Eamonn Holmes also made it clear that wife Ruth doesn’t share his sentiments, explaining she would rather not discuss it.
“Ruth puts her fingers in her ears when I talk about it.”
Of course, Ruth Langsford herself has suffered heartache as a result of a dementia diagnosis. In 2013, her father, Dennis, passed away, after battling the disease for eight years.
In the interview with the Mirror, Eamonn Holmes however confessed that he’s unsure whether his family would actually be able to carry out his wishes, if he weren’t able to decide for himself. He admitted, “Would they ever do anything? I don’t know. But they know it’s what I would want.”
Father-of-four Eamonn went on, to discuss the current laws surrounding assisted dying. In the UK, euthansia is illegal – meaning people who want to end their own lives after suffering an illness have to travel to other countries to do so.
Eamonn shared his own thoughts on the law, saying, “I don’t understand this country. The constant excuse not to let people die as they want.
“The questions asked are to protect the few: ‘What about the weak? What about the vulnerable? What about the rest of us? Everyone has the right to live as they like, but when it comes to death we put restrictions on that. If you have at least two doctors who agree with the diagnosis, it should be your choice.”
Ruth’s husband went on to explain that his stoic nature likely stems from his mother’s approach to ageing. He said, “My mother is 92 now and some days I say to her, ‘You need a nurse, you need a bit of help.’
“But her mind is sharp and she replies, ‘I won’t lose my dignity.’ She does everything alone, and I understand that.”
Despite Eamonn’s comments, it’s important to know that you can still live a long and fulfilling life with dementia. Although symptoms do worsen over time, living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining social contact can help patients to maintain their independence and normality for longer.
Practical tips, including writing down things you want to remember, and organising a weekly timetable for yourself, can help you to live well with dementia.
Continuing to see friends and family, and staying engaged with your favourite activities, can also help to better your life alongside dementia.