John Harris

Journalist & Author

Assisted dying is not the answer to old age. It could be the best time of our lives | John Harris

Gill Pharoah preferred to die rather than grow old. But I don’t share this vision of ageing

“I have looked after people who are old, on and off, all my life. I have always said, ‘I am not getting old. I do not think old age is fun.’ I know that I have gone just over the hill now. It is not going to start getting better.”

Gill Pharaoh, a 75-year-old former palliative care nurse, said those words to the Sunday Times not long before she left her home in north London for Switzerland. Anyone who has paid even fleeting attention to the news over the past few days will know what happened next: after a final meal on the banks of the river Rhine, at the Lifecircle assisted suicide clinic in Basel, she ended her life.

Related: Choosing to live should not mean living with indignity in old age | Lucy Webster

The word ‘burden’ is now a staple of most coverage of our ageing population

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