The topic of death, dying and end-of-life is not one that many want to delve into, yet in reality it is needed. “To be born, one must die.” Culture, religion, morals and values will play a part along with one’s upbringing and personal beliefs. As a professional who works with older adults/seniors, this area is of interest to me.
Before one can engage with clients on the topic of end-of-life, death or dying, one needs to be comfortable with the topic, have thought about it and perhaps have their thoughts in writing, i.e. advance care directives/planning, mandates and power of attorney/living wills.
I recently became a volunteer for an organization that focuses on these issues; Dying with Dignity of Canada. I was in Toronto a few weeks ago to attend a conference and as I was in town I met with the Executive Director and Membership & Office Coordinator to share my interest and willingness to become a speaker and help out in any way needed.
As the population continues to ‘grey,’ discussions, education, advocacy, and raising awareness of the issues is needed. According to statistics, the prediction is within the next 20 years, over ½ of the population will be in the 65+ demographic with a much smaller youth demographic to support them. More services will be needed, more professionals, and more end-of-life planning.
Dying with Dignity-Canada is a private, non-profit agency that has been around since 1982 and yet I only found them by chance when searching the internet on the topic of end-of-life issues.
There has been much in the news recently that focuses on the topic of Assisted Suicide, end-of-life issues and advance care directives. This includes interviews with individuals who believe in and want to see legislation in place that allows an individual to have some control and choice should they be in a situation where they become incapacitated, have a low to no chance of recovery, are diagnosed with a terminal illness or develop and are diagnosed with a chronic health condition. The choice should be up to the individual, although there are some who will not agree with this.
A few examples of individuals diagnosed with a chronic and degenerative health condition and/or diagnosed with a terminal illness have either left Canada to Switzerland to benefit from Assisted Suicide or Euthanasia and/or have been vocal about Assisted Suicide becoming legal in Canada, Susan Griffiths and Dr. Donald Low.
What are you thoughts?
By Victoria Brewster, MSW