Difference Between Hospice and Assisted Death (With Table)

The world is moving to a new generation and time at a high pace. It is true that time never stops for anyone, and with time, things and situations keep on changing. Today, more importance is given to money than health.

Everyone is concerned about how wealthy they are rather than how healthy they are. This has resulted in degrading health and increasing the number of patients. While some of them get treated completely and go back to their normal life easily, while others might be nearer to death than they are in life.

To such people who are critically ill, there are only two options of service provided, hospice and assisted death.

Hospice vs Assisted Death

The difference between hospice and assisted death is both of them have different results and processes. In hospice, the patient is provided with a choice of having medical attention and treatment to live the remainder of his life by fighting their current condition (illness), whereas, in assisted death, the patient is given a choice to end his life and the unbearable suffering of pain and difficulty. Therefore, in hospice, the process is of how to live, while in assisted death, the process of whether and how to die. Both of them are also known by different terms. For hospice, palliative care and palliative sedation are also used, and euthanasia and assisted suicide are other related terms for assisted death.

Hospice is a term used for a person who is terminally ill and chooses to have medical treatment to fight with the illness or his medical condition to be fit and fine again and to live the remainder of his life. This option is provided to every person in the world where the person chooses to live and control the remainder of his life, and there is no restriction in this option.

Assisted Death is another option given to a patient who is seriously ill and close to death more than life, although this option is only provided to certain areas or parts of the world where the person who is mentally capable of choosing, chose to die a peaceful death rather than living a painful and unbearable life. In this, the choice is of dying and to control the way of death.

Comparison Table Between Hospice and Assisted Death

Parameters of ComparisonHospiceAssisted Death
DignityOf livingEnding painful life
ChoiceTo liveTo die
AcceptanceAccepted worldwideOnly to some part of life
RestrictionsNo restriction on anyoneAvailable only for ill, mentally capable adults
ControlThe remainder of lifeThe manner of dying

What is Hospice?

When a person is critically ill, he is given the service of hospice, under which he is given all the required treatment and medical attention that could make his life a little painless or better. It is only given to patients that are nearer to death and do not choose to die. It is given to every individual. This treatment is given to the patient until its last breath.

The place where this treatment is given could be anywhere, as suitable to the patient or the staff providing the medical care. It can be an institution or the residence of the patient. This treatment has the main motive to ease the life of the patient by providing relief from the pain, which also includes emotional support. This treatment is not new but as old as Greek and Roman times and is accepted worldwide with no such restrictions of age, gender, caste, or religion.

What is Assisted Death?

This is an option given to a mentally capable but terminally ill person. Under this option, the patient chooses to die a peaceful death rather than suffering from painful life. It is only given to patients that have no hope of getting treated fully by any medications and are not capable of mental thinking. By choosing this option, the patient chooses to die by consuming lethal drugs rather than waiting for death by bearing the pain. Under this option, only the patient has the right to choose, and even his family cannot have any opinion in this matter.

This option faces a lot of criticism even nowadays, some people or laws suggests that it is just same as suicide which is illegal and is a criminal offense, and hence this option should not be given to the patient while others believe that having a painful life with no hope has no meaning, and it’s better to die peacefully.

It should be the choice of a patient whether he wants to live the rest of his life waiting for the ultimate death or choose to die early.

Main Differences Between Hospice and Assisted Death

  1. In terms of dignity, both of these options differ. For example, in hospice, the dignity is in living, in fighting for their life by battling with the illness or diseases and coming back more powerful than ever whereas, in assisted death option the dignity is in death, it is ending the painful and unbearable life with a peaceful and painless death.
  2. Both of these options are provided to a person who has to make a choice. In the case of hospice, the choice of living while getting the treatment which can be either my surgeries, medicines, or anything else, whereas, in the case of assisted death, the option is to die, which can also be by several means.
  3. Both of these terms can also be differentiated on the basis of their acceptance. The option of hospice is accepted worldwide. In every part of the world, the hospice option is available to everyone irrespective of their illness and condition, whereas the option of assisted death is only accepted in a few parts of the world as not many people consider death over the living.
  4. In terms of restriction, as mentioned above, the hospice is available to everyone, irrespective of their age, gender, religion, type of disease, or illness. Everyone has the right to this option, whereas only in the accepted area and only by the terminally ill person who is mentally capable of making a choice has the option of assisted death. Otherwise, no such option is provided.
  5. Patients have different types of control in these options, in case of hospice, the control is on the remainder of their life, that they want to live no matter how much pain they have to bear, while in case of assisted death, the control in the manner of dying, if and how they want to die to get free of the constant suffering.

Conclusion

With all the above information and differences between both hospice and assisted death, it is easier to understand them. Sometimes, the situation of a person is so critical that regular medicines and attention are not enough, and at that time, these are the only available option. Now it is up to the patient or their families which options they choose. There are many arguments that the second option, i.e., assisted death, is a coward option, and it is not still legal in many countries, and some people might even consider it as murder, but this is not true in all cases, there should always be a choice in such situation where living is way harder than dying.

Lastly, people should pay more attention to their health, so they do not have to choose between either of the above options.

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1353/hcr.2010.0016
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1049909111418637
  3. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=7Y4dBAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA223&dq=hospice+and+assisted+death&ots=Y7WU7cLscy&sig=9Je5KQ5gAOjbpLiXDbPdWrtlLdk
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