Dying in the Age of Choice

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aging/older adults, right to die, euthanasia, death/dying


Due to the unprecedented increase in the United States aging demographics, many more people are living longer and reaching older ages than ever before. However, a longer life is not necessarily a better life, as the vast majority will face a period of prolonged deteriorating health prior to death. Although notable efforts have been underway that are designed to improve the end-of-life experience, increasing numbers of individuals express a desire and/or act upon an intent to end their lives precipitously. Though still limited, the options to actively participate in their own deaths are growing. Requests for a hastened death can occur among people of all ages and includes those with advanced illness as well as others wanting to die due to unbearable suffering. This article provides an overview of the ongoing discourse about the experience of dying faced by many older adults, including aspects frequently associated with “a good death.” The limitations of established practices which seek to provide a “better” dying experience are identified followed by discussion of the growing availability of alternative options. Reflective considerations are presented to guide practice vis-à-vis the changing landscape surrounding options in dying.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Social Work in End-Of-Life & Palliative Care, v. 11, issue 1, p. 27-49

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