Abstract: End of life, time and suffering.

Eighth International Congress on Ethics in Medicine,
Beer-Sheva, Israel, 2000. Abstract book, page 40

End-of-Life, Time and Suffering
B.Z. Aminoff, MD, PhD
Geriatric Department and Memory Clinic, The Chaim Sheba Medical Center,
Tel Hashomer, Israel

Generally speaking, we all know how to plan time allotted to us, sometimes down to the last minute in every hour of the day. We take pleasure in celebrating events, festivals and birthdays. We all look forward to moments of success and happiness. We try to be on time, rush about and constantly plan our activities, be it on a daily, weekly or annual basis. The organization of time is a vital factor in our lives.
However, none of us prepare or plan, or wait for aging, for the reduced functioning and awareness, for periods of ill health and the eventual deterioration and suffering and return of our soul to our creator. The aged themselves, as well as their families, are unprepared for such an event. The end-of-life always appears to be only a remote theoretical fact. The feeling that life is eternal is natural to young and old alike, even in their last moments. Even when a person is critically ill and no hope for a cure is apparent, one searches for return to health, as one does not believe that time has run out. The attempts to treat irreversible medical conditions lead to unnecessary suffering in end-stage patients. The main purpose in the treatment of terminal patients is to prevent and diminish suffering until their last breath, so that this end stage of life should not become a nightmare and anguish for them and their families.