When it comes to assisted suicide or medical euthanasia I have always felt strongly for this topic. Although there are many stages in one’s life where this decision may be a consideration, my reflection will be solely on medical euthanasia and assisted suicide in elderly people with terminal illness.
Euthanasia is described at the medicalized killing or withholding and withdrawing futile treatment. Euthanasia requires the medical consent of the patient involved. (Materstvedt, et al., 2003)
Elderly people with terminal illness should be allowed to make the decision about whether they live or die. From personal experience with my grandmother Audrey, where I was personally involved, it was a struggle for my mother to watch her Audrey deteriorate into a state where she was unable to comprehend any aspect of life whatsoever. Audrey was diagnosed with Altziemers disease, specifically frontal lobe dementia. Before Audrey deteriorated into a non-comprehensive state, she signed a do not resuscitate (DNR). She had stated previously, that she didn’t want to live through the development of the disease. Having to watch someone forget the names of their partner, family members and loved ones is a terrible thing to experience and can be deemed unfair on the people involved. This opinion may be harsh, however Audrey had previously stated that she did not want to live through the disease specifically for that reason. I’m certain many people in the world have been in a similar situation and the opinions of others would be appreciated.
Linking physiotherapy to euthanasia and assisted suicide can be achieved by referring to my first block at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) in Cape Town, South Africa; where I was placed in the Medical and Oncology Ward. In these ward’s, we see a lot of patients with end-stage terminal cancer for palliative care. On many occasions I have arrived at the ward to treat my patient and unfortunately had no patient to treat, as they had passed over during the night. These patients are constantly in pain and struggle with every physical movement they make. Patients suffering from terminal-disease should have the choice of medical euthanasia or not, due to the nature of the inevitable outcome, death.
Materstvedt, L., Clark, D., Ellershaw, J., Førde, R., Gravgaard, A., Mu¨ ller-Busch, H., . . . Rapin, C. (2003). Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: a view from an EAPC Ethic Task Force. Palliative Medicine, 97-101.