Should Euthanasia on the alzheimer`s/dementia patients be allowed?
ShouldEuthanasia on the alzheimer`s/dementia patients be allowed?
Euthanasiais the medical practice that involves ending a person’s lifeintentionally if the person is suffering from a terminal illness andthus, the purpose is to end a person’s suffering. There are twocategories of euthanasia that are recognized and they are: voluntaryand involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal across the globe, butinvoluntary euthanasia is considered murder. Euthanasia is a moral,legal and ethical issues that attract different reactions fromdifferent people. Medical technology has advanced significantly,though it is still insufficient to replace the necessity ofeuthanasia in some cases. Alzheimer’s disease is the most commonform of dementia and it often affects people who are over 65 yearsold. Thisdiscussion shall justify the reason why euthanasia ought to belegalized and made a choice for patients of Alzheimer’s disease.
Onthe other hand, opponents of euthanasia argue that death is a naturalprocess that should not be aided. The proponents hold that it iswrong to place the decision regarding a person’s life on another’sdecision. The argument is that death is a natural process that shouldbe left to take place on its own. Theopponents argue that even patients of advanced Alzheimer’s diseaseshould not be allowed to undergo euthanasia because nature has proventhat they can still live for a couple of years.
Alzheimer’sdisease manifests itself in the form of memory loss in the earlystages. As the disease progresses, the person becomes irritable,moody, confused, aggressive, and has trouble with language. “Thedisease affects the brain and with time, the person becomes withdrawnfrom society” (Post 23). The effect on the brain causes a loss innormal bodily functions with time, and this causes a lot of sufferingas the person becomes increasingly dependent on artificial lifesupport (Battin 127). Muscular loss causes the person to becomeentirely dependent on others for simple tasks including feeding.Perhaps the only function that is evident is an emotional connectionwith society. The patient becomes susceptible to simple diseases andthis is what eventually leads to death.
Despitethe advancement in medicinal technology, why is it still imperativeto legalize euthanasia and offer it as an option for the advancestaged Alzheimer patients?
Medicaltechnology has enabled the medical field to continue supporting aperson’s life by using technology. Artificial life support performsnormal body function for the patient and this prolongs life. However,this often cannot perform all the body functions in such cases theperson still suffers a lot. The medical technology offers lifesupport services for the patient such as breathing and feeding. “Thepatient is often a very old person whose normal bodily functions arecompletely worn out. Apart from the ability to perform normal bodyfunctions, the person cannot survive without the support” (Post68). In such cases, it is important to end a person’s life as aperson still suffers considerable pain and there is no room forrecovery.
Medicaltechnology also offers medical treatment that sustains a person’slife. The most common mode of suffering for patients of Alzheimer’sdisease is pain as the body cannot protect itself from diseases andpain. Medical treatment offers pain relief, but this usually lastsfor certain periods after which, a person suffers from pain again. Asthe disease advances, the patient’s body becomes resistant to themedication and requires higher dosages so as to achieve the sameeffect (Younger & Gerrit 101). The person thus suffers when thebody becomes resistant to the medication. The medical advancement oftreatment in such cases offers no relief and the patient experienceslots of suffering. It would thus be logical to end the patient’slife in such cases so as to end the pain.
Additionally,as people age and diseases advance, patients with Alzheimer’sdiseases become ineligible for treatment such as organ transplants.Treatment in such cases becomes unnecessary as it does not achieveany results. In such cases, the patient cannot be considered fortreatment as it offers no solutions. “Patients with Alzheimer’sdisease experience organ deterioration and cannot be treated as theproblem cannot be resolved” (Battin 125). As organs continue tofail gradually, the person suffers from pain and does not have theability to perform normal functions independently. This calls for themoral consideration of euthanasia so as to reduce the period ofsuffering, as the patient will continue to experience pain with time.
Insevere cases of Alzheimer’s disease, patients lose all brainfunctions and they thus do not understand what is happening in theirenvironments. The patients lose all human functions and their livesare entirely dependent on artificial support. The doctors in suchcases do not offer treatment or withdraw treatment on grounds that itwould not make any difference. The existence of a person does notmake a difference in such a case (Battin 132). The patient cannotparticipate in any social functions and thus, the existence does nothave any social or medical function. It is thus rational to end thepatient’s life in such a case as continued living only causesphysical and emotional suffering.
Despitethe advances in medical technology, some elderly patients wish toterminate their lives instead of continuing to suffer. The patients’state regularly that they do not wish to continue living and in suchcases, it would be morally right to end their lives as it is theirpersonal wish. However, the doctor must ensure that a person has noexternal influence and the decision to die is a personal choice. Ifthe patient’s decision is influenced by friends, relatives orcaregivers, then it is morally unacceptable to end the patient’slife. Patients of Alzheimer’s disease are often suffering from painand most of them will choose to end their lives instead of continuedsuffering despite medical interventions (Post 168). In suchsituations, it would be ethically and legally okay to end thepatient’s life.
Braindamage is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. The brain damagemay not result in pain, but result in vegetativeness. The patientwith severe brain damage cannot receive any life saving treatment asthere is no medical treatment to reverse brain damage. The patient isthus qualified for voluntary euthanasia with the recommendation of adoctor. “The law allows for voluntary euthanasia as severe braindamage cannot be reversed with any medical intervention” (Battin118). The patient may not be in pain, but the person does not respondto the environment and depends on life support. It would thus bemorally and legally okay to end a person’s life.
Conversely,though there is no treatment to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’sdisease, the patient can receive life support treatment whichelongates the person’s life. Opponents can argue that it is morallywrong to end a person’s life if there is a means of keeping theperson alive. Besides, the patient still has emotional responses andthis would mean that it is wrong o end the patient’s life (Doyal &Wilsher 1691). Although it is possible to support a person’s lifeusing medical technology, the life support offers little relief frompain and suffering and it is, therefore, morally, ethically andlegally correct to end a person’s life.
Euthanasiais a painless process that puts an end to an otherwise painfulexistence that cannot be reversed and which results in death in thelong run. To begin with, prolonging the life of a person withAlzheimer’s disease causes great pain and suffering and thus anawful life that only results in a painful death. When ending theperson’s life, the doctor chooses to end a person’s life andprotect the patient from a deteriorating condition that results inphysical and emotional pain (Post 38).
Theinformation known to the society is not very much as society stilldebates on the morality of euthanasia. The knowledge about euthanasiais confined to the medical field and people who have been indecisions regarding euthanasia are the only ones with informationregarding the practice. The argument about the moral function ofeuthanasia prevents the public from obtaining information regardingthe practice. “Most people do not know the criteria used ineuthanasia. The general information is that it is used for patientswho are in a vegetative state” (Doyal & Wilsher 1690). Thepublic is not aware of other uses of euthanasia.
Additionally,Alzheimer’s disease causes the patient to become entirely dependenton other people to perform normal activities. This reduces a person’sdignity and privacy. This is shameful and often results in anunnecessary intrusion of privacy. The person’s dignity is reducedas the patient’s life choices are dependent on other people (Bernat201). It would thus be justifiable to end the patient’s life asthis preserves the patient’s dignity and privacy. The rationalebehind ending the patient’s life is that his dignity is respectedand the person suffers no emotional pain from over- dependence onothers for life support.
Insome cases, the patient is bound to die in the short term despiteusing medication. The doctors in such cases are ethically and legallyallowed to withhold medication as it would not help the patient orend suffering (Doyal & Wilsher 1690). Besides, the patient hasbeen proven to have a short life span and it would not be prolongedeven if the patient were put on medication. Instead of waiting forthe person to continue living and suffering, it would be rational toend the patient’s life and reduce the suffering that is caused bylack of treatment.
Thepublic does not also know that, in some cases, treatment can bedenied or withdrawn as it does not achieve any desirable results. Adoctor can withdraw treatment of a patient if the treatment provesuseless in improving the patient’s condition (Colby 158). Mostpeople are of the opinion that every patient is entitled to treatmentunder all conditions. However, in cases where treatment can be deniedor withdrawn, the doctors can advice the use of euthanasia so as toend the patient’s suffering. In such cases, euthanasia is necessaryas it is the most suitable way of ending suffering for the patient.Euthanasia is a necessary procedure for patients of Alzheimer’sdisease as it is the most dignified of ending the patient’ssuffering.
Incontrast, it can be said that the patient still has the right to lifeas long as his body still has minimal functions, which continue tosustain his existence. The patient has all the rights of a sociallyfunctional person and can still live as long as his life has notended naturally. It can be stated that it is morally and ethicallywrong to end the life of a person whose life has not ended naturally,especially in a situation where the patient cannot make a decision inperson (Bernat 97). However, this does not hold much clout as thepatient in most cases cannot live without life support. The patientis thus almost dead as withdrawal of technological life supportautomatically results in death. Euthanasia only ends the patient’slife without any more pain.
Additionally,the general understanding is that it is used for terminally illpatients who have little chance of survival. Most people are notaware that euthanasia can be used for patients who are ineligible formedical treatment as they are bound to die in the short term.According to medical practitioners, euthanasia can be used forpatients who are not eligible for medical treatment as it would nothelp them in any way. “Euthanasia can be used in such cases toprevent the suffering that the patient is bound to experience in theshort term due to lack of treatment. This is a medically fit reasonfor using euthanasia to protect the patient from suffering”(Younger & Gerrit 68).
Thelegal and medical regulations used in euthanasia are not known to thepublic. The law provides grounds under which doctors can advice thefamily of the patient to opt for euthanasia as a way of ending thepatient’s life so as to prevent further suffering. The legal andmedical regulations are meant to ensure that the use of euthanasia isvoluntary and necessary (Battin 122). The legal regulations alsoensure that euthanasia is carried out in situations where a medicalpractitioner recommends it as a last option.
Itis also not public knowledge that the euthanasia can be voluntary,where the patient chooses to undergo euthanasia. The most commonknowledge is that the euthanasia is done with the permission of thepatient’s family. However, it is also possible for a patient tochoose euthanasia so as to prevent himself from suffering. Patientssuffering from terminal illnesses may voluntarily choose to undergoeuthanasia (Post 76). The public ought to know that a person of soundjudgment can legally make the decision to undergo euthanasia in caseswhere treatment cannot be used to improve a person’s suffering.
Onthe other hand, those against euthanasia argue that the euthanasia isa morally wrong procedure that places the right to life of a personon another person’s judgment. The opponents argue that theeuthanasia is not necessary as death is a natural process that oughtto be left to take place on its own. They argue that if a person hasa minimal chance of survival, a person ought to be allowed to live(Colby 127). However, people suffering from Alzheimer’s diseasehave no chance of survival and the final stages of the disease areusually painful and elongating the patient’s life only results inpain and suffering. It is for this reason that euthanasia isimportant as it facilitates a painless death of patients sufferingfrom Alzheimer’s disease. It ought to be a choice for patientssuffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Euthanasiais a medical procedure that involves ending a patient’s life so asto end pain and suffering. Euthanasia is a legal procedure that isallowed under medical conditions (Yount 12). Euthanasia can be usedwhere a person is has a short lifespan and the use of medication isuseless. Euthanasia can also be used where the doctor determines thatthe use of treatment is not necessary as the person cannot continueliving for a long time. The patient can also choose to undergoeuthanasia as a way of ending his suffering. The opponents ofeuthanasia argue that it is morally wrong to kill a person forwhatever reason. However, the pros of euthanasia outdo the cons andit ought to be allowed for any willing person, who is terminally ill.
Battin,Margaret P. “Euthanasiain Alzheimer’s Disease?” Dementia and Aging: Ethics, Values, andPolicy Choices.Ed. Robert H. Binstock, Stephen G. Post, and Peter J. Whitehouse.Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. 118-137. Print.
Bernat,James L. EthicalIssues in Neurology.Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008. Print.
Colby,William H. Unplugged:Reclaiming Our Right to Die in America.New York: AMACOM/American Management Association, 2006. Print.
Doyal,Len, and Daniel Wilsher. “Withholding and Withdrawing LifeSustaining Treatment From Elderly People: Towards Formal Guidelines”British Medical Journal. 308 (1994): 1689-1692. Print.
Post,Stephen G. TheMoral Challenge of Alzheimer Disease: Ethical Issues from Diagnosisto Dying.Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. Internetresource.
Youngner,Stuart J, and Gerrit K. Kimsma. Physician-assistedDeath in Perspective: Assessing the Dutch Experience.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.
Yount,Lisa. Euthanasia.San Diego, Calif: Greenhaven Press, 2002. Print.