Gill Pharaoh, a former palliative care nurse who was aged 75 and reported to be in good health, has ended her life at a Swiss euthanasia clinic after describing getting old as “awful”.
Ms Pharaoh, who had written books on caring for older patients, died on 21 July at the Lifecircle clinic in Basal with her partner of 25 years by her side.
“I do not want people to remember me as a sort of old lady hobbling up the road with a trolley”
Her decision to end her life was based on a desire not to grow old, she told the Sunday Times in an interview before her death.
The mother-of-two said her experience as a nurse had revealed the “awful” reality of old age and that she did not want to become a burden to her children or be “blocking beds”.
She said: “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,” she told the newspaper. “I would rather go out when I am not quite at a peak.”
She added: “I do not want people to remember me as a sort of old lady hobbling up the road with a trolley.”
Despite not experiencing any serious health problems, Ms Pharaoh said a severe bout of shingles in 2010 had “changed” everything and had led her to feel her health was beginning to deteriorate.
She said her children knew of her plan and admitted that they struggled to accept her decision.
“My daughter is a nurse and she said: ‘Intellectually, I know where you are coming from but emotionally I am finding it really hard,’ and I know she is,” Ms Pharaoh told the Sunday Times.