Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ethics of Dying (Video 2:18)

People don’t die like they used to die. They live longer with illnesses that progress while technology keeps them alive. Questions are asked about taking the technology too far or not far enough. Family members argue about extending loved ones’ lives as the inevitable approaches. Some question if the burdens of dying are worth the benefits from extending life. Can death be wrestled to the ground and lose to earthly inventions? What about cost factors, legalities, and societal impacts?

As the population ages, there will be a 50% increase in cancer cases over the next 20 years. With more and more technical advances, older adults with advanced cancer, their caregivers, and healthcare providers are confronted with circumstances in which medical advances may inadvertently extend dying and suffering rather than bring healing.

Spirituality often comes up during these times, and assistance from members of the healthcare team may be needed to resolve important ethical concerns. Spiritualty and religion can play significant roles in oncology and in survivorship. Many patients and caregivers rely on them when choosing therapies and aggressive or less aggressive end-of-life care.

Palliative care includes many ethical issues. Is there an ethical limit to prolonging life? In this video, Dr. Ira Byock, palliative care physician and chief medical officer of the Providence Institute for Human Caring, addresses the ethics of prolonging life:

Health care blogs like mine and health care websites can be persuasive. They are used by many to impact the thoughts and actions of others. Is one more persuasive than the other? Here’s what the research says:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.


  1. Wish there would have been assistance available 11yrs ago when my dad was dying of colon cancer & begged for help to die. He went from 240ilbs to a skeleton. He looked like a concentration camp victim. Hospice was great, but he wanted to go on his terms & it was horrible to watch & have him ask for help that I could not give him. Thank you Linda Kort-Hovey

  2. Great points in this article and every family caregiver may learn a thing or two by reading it.