Aging and dying are inevitable. However, coming to terms with this truth can be difficult, especially in the modern context with an excessive dependence and faith in biomedicine. Advances in biomedicine and life-prolongation strategies along with changes in social-cultural structures pose a different kind of predicament – the percentage of aging population is on the rise and, at the same time, traditional strategies for taking care of the elderly and their problems are being replaced by more impersonal state-driven methods. India, with its large population, poor biomedical facilities for the average person, and widespread poverty, yet fast changing attitudes towards family and the aged, faces a great crisis today.
The collection of essays in this volume addresses different aspects of this issue. The first section is both philosophical and prescriptive. It explores our rich religious and philosophical tradition to probe the very concepts of life and death and then suggests strategies - age old and time-tested - for coping with the inevitability of aging and dying. Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic perspectives on aging, dying, euthanasia, and related concepts are explored and coping strategies suggested.
The second section deals with socio-ethical issues related to aging and dying in the Indian context, in light of the existing state of affairs and possible directions for the future. The third and final section looks at the most pressing problems that confront both Indian society and medicine – end-of-life care.
Chapter 13: Dying with Dignity
Dying with Dignity
Dying with Dignity
‘Death and Dying’ has been the subject of many a discussion in the present era, notwithstanding how ‘death’ is a morbid subject. ‘Euthanasia’, ‘assisted suicide’, ‘death with dignity’ are all worldwide concerns and must, therefore, be matters of consideration for every sensible and sensitive human being.
Let us assume that ‘dying’ (for the terminally ill) is a process, comparable to a complex chemical reaction. The hard fact remains that the initial reactant (life) eventually leads to the final product (death). The ‘unknown’ element, however, is the path through which this reaction takes place. In other words, the modality through which Death shall occur for an individual remains to be explored or observed. The objective of this chapter is to ...