It’s pretty common in discussions about degenerative conditions like ALS, Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc. for people to say they would turn to assisted suicide instead of letting things take their natural course. That can be understandable, as the person may not want to spend decades in that state, as well as not want to put their family through all the care, cost and support issues. But the problem with suicide in that case is that the person needs to take that step while they are still competent. That almost certainly means the person has to make the decision well before the condition has progressed to the later stages. If someone’s mental or physical capabilities are declining, there will be a point where they won’t remember or be able to do what they need to do. If instead the person could take some steps to ensure they could limit their lifespan to a short time–like a year or two–they might be more willing wait it out.
Impractical solutions would be things like exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, strong radiation, or liver-damaging foods. Those kinds of things can limit your lifespan to just a few years. But it wouldn’t be practical in this kind of scenario since people would not want to go through the long and painful suffering process from those kinds of things.
A perfect solution could be something like a reverse pacemaker. Rather than ensuring your heart stays beating, it could stop your heart after a certain amount of time. It could even be interactive where you had to send a signal to it to keep it going. If it didn’t get the signal for some period of time, the assumption is that your condition has progressed and it’s time to activate. But I can’t imagine something like this ever being researched or approved for human use.
So I’m wondering if there’s any assisted suicide alternative which would lead to a relatively painless death in a few years rather than immediatly. But instead of causing a painless death quickly, the painless death would happen after some long period of itme.