Quality or quantity of life – choice?
My mom is with us again this weekend. She is having a much worse weekend than last weekend, and that makes things hard. Both hers and my dad’s older age have not been much in the area of quality and it makes me wonder. If we had a choice or if there IS a choice. I mean, I realize that my mom’s cancer wasn’t a choice. But, her pursuing treatment after treatment over the years, even with very little promise of positive outcome was her choice. And she did it. She suffered horrible side effects, painful surgeries, loss of body parts…more than once. And so she is here with us, but at what cost?
My dad hung on for quite a while through his dementia. He would NOT have wanted to live the last year of his life the way he did. He probably would have chosen to end it earlier than that, given a choice. But, he was not.
There is now a bill moving through the California legislature providing for legal assisted suicide. I support it. I think that in our society, we focus too much on quantity of life and not enough on quality of life. That is true always, not just for those with terminal illness, but it is especially true for those with terminal illness.
No one know the amount of pain and suffering that one will have to go through to make it to the end, but although I support the legislation, I also don’t know if I could ever make that choice for myself. With my mom, there have been good intervening years that she may have missed given some of her early prognosis. So, who knows what will happen? Medical advances are being made all the time. But, I do think that for older individuals who are satisfied with their lives and are given a prognosis of pain and suffering, whether long or short, this option is a good one to have available.