Planning ahead of your death is ethical? – This is certainly a hot topic for debate especially when you have ‘end-of-life-care’ and ways to ensure ‘good health’. This is a point that people feel that it is highly unethical to consider stopping life support to an individual. There are others who consider this as a practical option as you can do an estate planning, taking the money out from your life insurance, getting a funeral plan with a cemetery plot or giving special instructions about your burial.
Often, people with prolonged illness or disease that cannot be cured extend their life by considering extremely expensive treatment that extends people’s life. The family members will be in a fix that they do not want to end their loved one’s life, yet at the same they may not have the courage to see them suffer, undergoing medication yet not getting better at it. Many countries have created law that provides people to write their last wishes and about their death and treatment for the same. This will eliminate the dilemma that loved ones are in.
This is referred to as an advance directive and it consists of two documents:
• Living will
o Medical procedures you want
o Medical procedures you do not want
o Life support
o Keep alive or comfort care
Both these documents will give details about your health care in advance. This is a good way for people to make their wishes known clearly before they become incapacitated and need someone else to make the decision for them.
Basically, the first document of the advance directive will provide direction to the people around you about the exact wishes you are likely to get when you near the terminal stages of your life. This includes the medical procedures you are okay and you are not okay to receive. It also includes whether you are okay to change your medicinal procedures in case your health condition improves. It also includes a section whether you are okay to be kept in life support system until you die or you would want to be kept in number of various ways to choose your end.
These are all difficult decisions to make and many people may not wish to make it. However for practical purposes, it is considered a good idea to make a living will as soon as possible. Many religions also forbid people to end their lives by refusing or removing life support. All these makes it very difficult for those taking care of you to make an informed decision as to the care you should be provided especially if you are terminally ill, in a coma and such. The other aspect of an advance directive is the DPOA or ‘durable power of attorney for heath care’.
This document specifically lets you take such a decision when you cannot take such a decision by yourself. Also, you can choose a person who will carry out these tasks on your behalf who is close to you and are responsible. Many people choose a second name to it as well just in case if the person you have chosen is not around to take those decision such as choosing the doctor, hospital, nursing home etc. You can keep a copy of the document at a safe place and inform your family members.
It is advisable that you discuss with your spouse before you decide on what your spouse want to do and then decide on what you want to do. Typically majority of the states in US require a DNR “Do Not Resuscitate Order” to be signed by the patient or a family member. This will give ideal directions to the doctors attending you and to the paramedics whether to provide or withhold a CPR and other resuscitation methods. It may be debated that whether it is ethical or not, however it is entirely based on your personal beliefs and of course governed by the city and state laws of the place you live in.
On a contrary yet at the same time a practical note, pre-planning your funeral is done by many, the type of burial they want and the type of memorial service expected etc. It is important to keep aside a portion of your money to carry out such expenses as this may lead to be a burden in your family member’s life at a certain stage. Planning your estate to be divided can be considered a wiser option by many to avoid quarrel amongst the family members at a later stage.