From the Daily Telegraph, in part: Labour's czar for the elderly said she had made a living will that will mean she is 'not kept alive if I'm a vegetable'. She added that people should not be helped to go on living by machinery if they had outlived their normal lifespan.
The 75-year-old television presenter also called for laws that would allow terminally ill patients to be given fatal doses of drugs. The controversial call for assisted dying and allowing people with dementia to die came a week after Dame Joan's appointment as the 'voice of older people'.
Dame Joan told the Daily Telegraph: 'Everybody fears becoming unable to speak, unable to communicate. 'That's a really alarming prospect and I think it is quite a good idea to give thought to it now and to write a living will and to make provision, tell your nearest and dearest what you want.'
She added: 'I don't want people to be kept alive simply because there is a lot of enormous machinery that can keep them pumped up and with all the organs going, when in fact their identity has ceased to exist.'
She called for MPs and peers to 'revisit' the Bill put forward earlier this year by Lord Joffe that would have given doctors the right to give a fatal dose of drugs to a terminally sick patient.
Dame Joan said: 'The bill is very limited in scope and you have to have a terminal illness - you really have to be within sight of the pearly gates - before anything is possible. It is not a matter of saying "you are a bit old, can you pop off?".'
But Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: 'Dame Joan talks about enormous machinery keeping people alive, but there is a big difference between that and Lord Joffe's bill, that would mean people could be given injections to kill them off. Dame Joan ought to know the difference and it is disappointing that she doesn't. She runs the risk of giving the impression to people with dementia that they have a duty to die.'