Ethics and Personal Choice in End-of-life Care

If you have the right to live, do you also have the right to die?

This is a complex question—and one that has often become the focus of public debate. Names like Terry Schiavo and Dr. Jack Kevorkian may come to mind.

Beliefs vary based on culture, religion, upbringing, and individual introspection.

Perhaps there is no single “right” or “wrong” answer. And maybe your answer will change under different circumstances.

What, for example, are your answers to these questions?

  • In what situations, if any, should a patient be allowed to die?
  • Should a doctor always do everything possible to extend a patient’s life?
  • What if the patient has an incurable disease?
  • What if he or she is suffering from immense pain?
  • What if he or she must depend entirely on someone else for care?
  • What if he or she no longer finds any enjoyment in life?
  • What if a patient wants one thing but his or her family members want the opposite?

Does your answer change if the patient is your spouse? Your parents? Other loved ones?

Does your answer change if the patient is you?

If you’re not sure whether you, as a patient, would prefer end-of-life healthcare options meant to extend your life as long as possible or medical treatments designed to help you experience a comfortable death—or somewhere in between—then try asking yourself what you consider important for a good quality of life. And remember, quality of life includes quality in the final days of your life.

Which of these are the most important to your quality of life? Which would you not want to spend your final days without, and which would you be willing to sacrifice if it meant extending your life?

  • The ability to communicate and express yourself
  • Feeding yourself and eating
  • Dressing yourself
  • Freedom from severe, lasting pain
  • Long-term memory
  • Short-term memory
  • Self-worth

It’s okay if you find one or more of these questions difficult to answer. You may not be able to decide on some of the answers now.

When you create your Keystone Digital Living Will, many of the medical treatment options available to you may make you consider your final days more seriously than you have previously. Take time to think about your choices. Talk to loved ones about your thoughts. Go through and complete your living wills together.

Be assured that you can make changes later—as many as you’d like, easily from any device, in the comfort of your home, at no extra cost. Know that the choices you make are, in fact, yours to make, and are the “right” choices so long as they reflect your own values and beliefs.

Still unsure how Keystone Digital Living Will works and how it can benefit you and your loved ones? Click here to download the electronic book on everything you need to know about living wills.

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