End of life care for the elderly: a care ethics approach
Keywords:End of life, Assisted life ending support, Euthanasia, Care ethics, Palliative care, Elderly people, Vulnerability
This article approaches end of life care for elderly people from a care ethics perspective. End of life care should not be confused with assisted life ending approaches and support or euthanasia. End of life care refers to care of people who are dying, immaterial of age or medical condition. Vulnerability is not limited to elderly people (as care-receivers) only but also to caregivers as a vulnerable group in own right.
Care ethics for healthcare is defined as creating a relationship between caregiver and care-receiver (in this case the elderly person), recognising their mutual vulnerability and potential power relationship within the healthcare value chain, and carrying out the responsibility to care for and protect life and its dignity in order to improve quality of life and health and grow personal life orientations. Care ethics is influenced by a changing relationship between caregiver and care receiver, ethical environment, palliative care and social determinants.
Understanding and dealing with end of life care can never be removed from the discussion on quality of life, dignity and human suffering that adds no value to life. The Christian narrative is used to promote and uphold the dignity and prolonging of life. To this may be added, care for the dying. This narrative is built on God as the Creator of life, the duty to care for life and the respect for life no matter the quality thereof.
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