CHOICE 1

ALL AVAILABLE MEASURES

In this choice, all measures are taken to try to keep you alive as long as possible, including the use of breathing machines, feeding tubes, and chest compressions (CPR). Death usually occurs in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital.

Advantages
  • Chance of extending life
  • Constant care from medical team
Disadvantages
  • May not extend life
  • Low quality of life
  • Hard to manage pain
  • Low chance of leaving hospital after CPR
  • Still need to decide when to stop these measures

CHOICE 2
LIMITED INTERVENTIONS

This choice tries to keep you comfortable using only limited measures and avoiding the ICU. If you want, your care team can attempt CPR or use hospital resources as needed. Many patients die at home, if they prefer. Pain and suffering are usually managed well.

Advantages
  • Low risk of pain and complications
Disadvantages
  • No use of intensive measures like breathing machines

CHOICE 3
COMFORT MEASURES ONLY

This choice uses a palliative care team to address your physical, psychological, and spiritual pain and suffering without any attempts to cure your illness. Most patients die at home.

Advantages
  • High quality of life
  • Greater satisfaction with care and medical team
  • Support for your caregivers/family before and after your death
Disadvantages
  • No life-saving measures will be attempted, even if they might extend your life
  • Side effects from pain medications

CHOICE 4
NO CARE

You can refuse all treatments and manage your pain on your own or with the help of others. It can be hard for others to care for you in this choice. If you are not able to make decisions for yourself or people believe you are not acting in your own best interest, someone else might have to choose for you.

Advantages
  • Total control over treatment and care as long as you are able to communicate
Disadvantages
  • Difficult to manage pain

CHOICE 5
STOP EATING AND DRINKING

In this choice, you can remove all food and drink, speeding up your death when other measures do not work or are illegal. Death usually occurs at home. The process can be hard at first but becomes easier to tolerate over time.

Advantages
  • No feelings of hunger or thirst as you near death
Disadvantages
  • Period of intense hunger that lessens over time
  • Requires huge willpower to continue when hunger sets in
  • Can take up to 2 weeks or longer before death occurs

CHOICE 6
PALLIATIVE SEDATION

In this choice, doctors use medications to put you to sleep and relieve your pain. Those medications might speed up death.

Advantages
  • Effective at limiting pain
Disadvantages
  • Limited or no communication

CHOICE 7
PHYSICIAN AID IN DYING

In this choice, doctors prescribe you a pill to take if they believe you cannot survive longer than six months, only if you are making clear decisions and can swallow the pill yourself. This choice is only legal in five states currently and some countries outside the US. You must be a resident in those states where it is legal.

Advantages
  • The drug works quickly to make you unconscious
  • Death is painless
  • Control over date and time of death
Disadvantages
  • Can take time to establish residency in the state
  • Limited opportunity to change your mind after swallowing pill
  • Bad taste

CHOICE 8
EUTHANASIA

With this choice, a doctor has to administer the life-ending medication, usually because you cannot do it yourself. This choice is only legal in a small number of countries outside the US. In those countries, there is a strict system to make sure you are clear and certain about your choice.

Advantages
  • You do not need to take the drug yourself if you are unable
  • Choice over date and time of death
Disadvantages
  • It can be expensive to get to a country where it is legal and may take time to make arrangements
  • If you become unable to communicate, no opportunity to reverse course after plans have been made

CHOICE 9
SUICIDE

In this choice, you can end your life however and whenever you choose. Suicide can be extremely difficult on others, especially your family and loved ones who may be responsible for any costs associated with your death. This choice is illegal in most countries, but it is not considered a crime in every country. Some survivors of suicide attempts report they greatly regret their decision.

Advantages
  • Carried out in the way you want, at the time and place you choose
  • Successful acts can be immediate
Disadvantages
  • Once you begin the process, suicide usually cannot be stopped
  • Chance of being unsuccessful
  • If unsuccessful, there can be pain and suffering from the injuries