I’m not a euthanasia guy but having just revisiting a brief I wrote a while back for Hospice Care Network on end-of-life care, it brought back some thoughts on this sensitive topic. The highly publicized couple that went to Europe earlier this summer to end their lives also brought the subject to mind. Was their choice selfish? Yes and hell no. Cultures deal with death differently; more sophisticated cultures deal with death in what we think are more humane ways. I’m not so sure.
A NYT article today reported that 1/3 of all Medicare expenses go to funding chronic illnesses in the last two years life. My research suggests that prolonging death is often the choice of the family, not the dying. The dying comply because they think it’s what the family wants, but it often prolongs the patient’s emotional and physical pain. They lose control of their body and their will.
Conservatives can scare people with death panels (nice ploy, by the way) but the reality is families need to make end-of-life decisions…and the patient must be heard. Some of these decisions may have economic repercussions on family pocketbooks and the economy, but the real discussion should be about quality of life at the end. The discussion should not be ignored. Big peace! (If you’d like to read the brief, hit me.)