Below is a series of images of Aged Care, my final piece for the OCA course Textiles 1: A Creative Approach to Textiles. Click on a photo to be taken into a carousel that lets you scroll through the full size images one by one.
Words trap the voiceless.
Quotes and sources:
“the elderly or vulnerable may be coerced into agreeing to end their life for somebody else’s gain” Comment by “jo jo” to article Novak, L. “Euthanasia could become a matter of will in South Australia” http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/euthanasia-could-become-a-matter-of-will-in-south-australia/comments-e6frea83-1226547855797 Accessed 11-Feb-2013
“it is inherently wrong to end a life in answer to suffering” From “A Disability Position Statement On Euthanasia and Physician-assisted Suicide” http://proliving.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/disability-position-statement-on.html Accessed 11-Feb-2013
“Reducing the availability of means of suicide as a preventive strategy has been advocated as an important strategic initiative”. Cattell, H. “Suicide in the elderly”. In: Advances in Psychiatric Treatment (2000) 6: 102-108 doi: 10.1192/apt.6.2.102 http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/6/2/102.full Accessed 20-Aug-2012
“voluntary euthanasia could be open to the terrible abuse of the elderly” Gillian Mears discussing her earlier (now changed) views on the topic, quoted in Power, J. “Author’s new view on final chapter”. http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/authors-new-view-on-final-chapter-20121118-29k9r.html Accessed 19-Nov-2012
“the act of suicide in late life is rarely a rational act or an unavoidable tragedy” Cattell, H. “Suicide in the elderly”. In: Advances in Psychiatric Treatment (2000) 6: 102-108 doi: 10.1192/apt.6.2.102 http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/6/2/102.full Accessed 20-Aug-2012
“fraught with danger” Rob Stokes quoted in Tovey, J. “Euthanasia is just a bridge too far” http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/euthanasia-is-just-a-bridge-too-far-20121022-281i9.html
“affects the values of society over time” Quote in Davey, M. “Doctor slams ‘arrogance’ on euthanasia” http://www.smh.com.au/national/doctor-slams-arrogance-on-euthanasia-20121023-283l8.html Accessed 24-Oct-2012
“a Trojan horse for involuntary euthanasia” Kelleher, T, Death on demand: euthanasia and assisted suicide in Australia – (AFA Journal Vol.32 No.1 2011) http://www.family.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=412 Accessed 11-Feb-2013
“the abuse of elderly people by coercion and psychological manipulation” http://noeuthanasia.org.au/blog/blog/more-on-elder-abuse-dying-for-dollars.html Accessed 22-Jan-2013
“regardless of circumstances, no suicides are all right” Russell, P. LIFE ISSUES: Assisted suicide rationalised by misguided motives http://newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=5401 Accessed 11-Feb-2013
“exploitation and perhaps callousness towards people in the end stage of life” Julie Gillard quoted in Davey, M. “Doctor slams ‘arrogance’ on euthanasia” http://www.smh.com.au/national/doctor-slams-arrogance-on-euthanasia-20121023-283l8.html Accessed 24-Oct-2012
“euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation is never safe” http://noeuthanasia.org.au/blog/blog/south-australia-going-for-gold.html
That’s it for the presentation but since this is my blog and my soapbox, I’m going to give voice to my take on assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia for the elderly.
I believe the individual should have the final choice on whether and when to end their life. Safeguards – checks and balances – are needed to ensure that there is no coercion or manipulation. It will be difficult to draft the legislation, but being difficult doesn’t mean impossible. It won’t be perfect, nothing is – the current situation is far, far, far from perfect.
The individual should be able to make a living will, setting out various potential circumstances and what they want to happen. If a person thinks that’s dangerous, then don’t make one – or even better, make a living will with clear instructions that to you personally every second of life is precious and you want every step taken to prolong your life as long as possible in all circumstances. It’s your choice.
I think that for many people, if they are confident that their wishes will be honoured, they will be able to relax and enjoy their life longer. Knowing they won’t be trapped, that they have control over their own life, the final step can be delayed until they are ready. Maybe with extra time, with no fear of legal consequences, they will be able to discuss their personal choice and reasons with their family and loved ones. That could make a difference to those left behind.
Excellent palliative care, identification and treatment of depression, support for those lonely or grieving – all have been raised as removing the need for assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia. In practice there isn’t the funding available to make these services available to everyone and they are not the choice of everyone. In Nancy’s case, she was “lucky”. She spent time in a psych ward following her suicide attempt and later spent a couple of months in an acute care hospital while her specialist attempted to find a balance of medication that dealt with her pain without too many side-effects. There has been no ongoing support in the nursing home. Even something as simple as a heat-pack – the one sure way to ease her pain a little – is only available sporadically.
To address this, I believe any savings in the system due to reduced long-term care of those individuals who choose assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia should be immediately used to provide additional funding to palliative care, treatment of depression, and all those other valuable programs that support individuals, perhaps making what was unbearable bearable – for at least a little longer.