Important to talk about death when we are healthy

OUR strong and innate instinct to live despite overwhelming odds is always amazing ("Rage, rage against the (prolonged) dying of the light"; last Saturday).

Dr Chong Siow Ann noted that it is easy to sign the Advance Medical Directive while one is in significantly good health and everything seems rosy.

It is imperative to decide what kind of care we want for ourselves while we are still healthy and in a clear state of mind.

For instance, if a terminally ill parent refuses treatment to prolong his life, his children would be unhappy and angry, if no previous understanding had been reached between them.

The age of the patient also matters.

If the patient is young, doctors are more likely to use more extraordinary measures to save his life, than if the patient were, say, 90 years old.

The death of a young person is viewed as untimely and sudden, while the death of an old person is taken as the course of nature.

There is a stigma about discussing death. I, myself, find it hard to discuss this delicate subject with my parents.

However, it is definitely within the means of doctors to make this discussion easier.

I hope that while discussing treatment options with a dying patient, doctors will place more emphasis on the comforts and remaining quality of life, regardless of the patient's age.

Lee Kay Yan (Miss)