Geriatric Right to Die Research Paper

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Geriatric Right to Die

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The debate about whether geriatric people or terminally ill people should be given right to end their lives to avoid constant pain and sufferings is a long- standing debate ever since the idea was first identified in our society. The man kind have developed certain rules under the moral or ethical code to promote the freedom of an independent and his right to live on his own will but the right to die or often referred as rational suicide is the long-lasting and unresolved matter as the issue is not only ethically complex but also has several societal and religious connotations associated with it. Additionally, the dependent nature of many geriatric patients further complicate the issue as the older patients as a result of cognitive impairment and/or communication disorders are unable to express their preference regarding their health care matters especially the right to die or treatment termination. Right to die has become a complex issue of recent times, with forces wrestling from different cultures, origins having a variety of beliefs, values and ethical, social and religious factors all effecting a person's will to die legally. The objective of this paper is therefore to highlight various bills and legislations passed regarding this issue and also various ethical, religious, medicinal and socioeconomic implications to evaluate whether geriatric people are as free to have right to end their lives as free are they to live.

The paper aims to check the possibility of two different hypotheses on the basis of secondary research or literature review, which are:

H0: to give geriatric people right to die is beneficial for them and is correct.

HA: to give geriatric people right to die is unethical and is not correct.

Literature Review

Research Paper on Geriatric Right to Die Assignment

Medical science has made many advances to increase longevity but unfortunately all long-lived people do not die peacefully. Some die with torturous discomfort and painful death. Also longevity is becoming a global reality as it was forecasted that 25% of world's total population will constitute the elderly over seventy five years of age by the year 2010, further increasing the issue of death with dignity. The issue is so significant that in most of the states in the U.S., Japan, Britain, right to die or voluntary euthanasia (doing something to terminate life of terminally ill people) in one way or another is allowed by law but under strict guidelines. However, in Canada, Germany, Mexico and most of the other countries aid-in-dying or Physician-assisted suicide are illegal and are against the law (Levett, 2011).

According to Rurup (2006) the geriatric care is subject to many social, ethical and economic considerations. Especially the decisions regarding treating patients who are near their end of life are fundamentally affected by various ethical and socioeconomic considerations. For example how health care providers should deal with issues regarding an individual patient's request for the right to die, issues such as physician-assisted suicide etc. The author suggests that complete guidance should be provided to either the patient or in case if the patient is physically or mentally incapable of making or communicating a decision a complete explanation should be given to his family members regarding such decisions for example end of life decisions, suspension of treatment of terminally ill patients to avoid pain, assisted-suicide decision where a physician assist in ending the life of a patient with his or her own consent. Although many states strictly prohibit assisted suicide, but a few has recently legalized assisted suicide that allows physicians to prescribe a fatal drug or dose to terminally ill patients who are likely to die within six months, based on the value of individual right to end his life and the right to control his own destiny to control how and when they should die. However, this act is prohibited by the opponents who believe that taking a life in any case is harmful (Gastmans & Lemiengre, 2007).

Active and Passive Euthanasia

According to Lemiengre (2008), Euthanasia which is a derived term from Greek roots emphasizing "painless death" to the painful patients has two different kinds. These are known as active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. The active euthanasia refers to mercy killings or acceleration of death, where the patients who are suffering from severe pain are provided drugs or some weapons are used to fulfill their desire of death. The second type of euthanasia is called passive euthanasia where measures such as ventilators or life saving drugs to the patients are no longer provided. This is performed in order to let the patient reach its destination without any medicinal help. Passive euthanasia is a common practice by medical professional who believe that this is mercy killing for the patients who suffer severely from pain.

Levett (2011) in his article "Dying with dignity" discusses a case of Irishman Donegal who was suffering from severe pain as he was a dying man and was unable to perform any act. Neither was he able to drink by himself nor he was able to provide any assistance or help to his family. This was a case of active euthanasia, where the person had the right to die but was unable to due to legal and political scenario. The author emphasizes that at times there are exceptional cases where death is preferable more to life; this is only because the pain that is suffered by the patient cannot be understood or realized by any other person in the world.

Discussion of Issue:

The issue under study is that whether the geriatric people should have the right to die or not. The issue is debatable as there are both negatives and positives aspects to it. According to the supporters of the thought that such patients should be given the right to decide about death because such decision will free them from the unbearable pain and suffering. Although life is precious and valuable but in such cases the value of death is more than life because life becomes unbearable and painful and there are no chances of betterment. On the other hand the critics of the idea of giving right to die to such patients are of the belief that decisions related to life and death are the matters of God and human beings should not intervene into the matters of God. Moreover according to them it is unethical and cruel to ask someone to select death for them. So this debate is ongoing and it is difficult to select any one stance or position.

Pro-Position:

The pro-position in this regard is that such patients should be given the right or choice to decide for death. The patients who have been told by doctors that there are no chances of improvement or betterment should be given the right to choose death over such miserable and painful life. The people are given the right to decide about their lives and our society talks about being liberal and democratic but when it comes to the right to decide for death it is perceived and considered to be suicide which is being criticized by a particular school of thought. According to them the seriously ill people who have no chances of getting well should be given right to decide for their death and get relief from unbearable pain and misery.

Con Position:

The con position in this regard is that geriatric people should not be given the right to die. According to critics and this school of thought it is unethical and unkind to ask someone that whether he will prefer to die or not. The patient should be motivated in order to increase his will power rather than being de-motivated by giving him the option of death. Moreover it is also in contradiction to some of the religious beliefs. According to many the people the matters of life and death are to be decided by God and human beings cannot interfere into His decisions. This act is perceived and considered to be equivalent of suicide, which is unethical and in some religions is unlawful and prohibited.

Political resolution

According to the modern law it is a legal right for the medically competent person to refuse any further medical treatment even if the refusal would lead to his/her death. In this scenario the medical treatment includes ventilation and feeding tube. The law is applicable for the patients who are conscious and able to communicate, furthermore they are mentally in the position to take decision on their own.

The legal issues become complicated when the patients are unable to communicate or are in unconscious state. In such condition there are two issues that who is going to decide for the patient and how does the person will decide. According to law in such scenario the patient's guardian have the responsibility to take the decision about the patient. The decision would certainly be taken by guardian on the basis of the patient's previous wish or keeping in mind his patient's conduct and religious belief. In a situation where… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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