I agree. I am not in favor of euthanasia, BUT I think as health care professionals, people, especially the elderly, their families, as well as those with chronic illnesses need a strong, strong, strong educational drive about end of life changes, living wills, advance directives and making their wishes known.
I personally have told my family I have two parameters about deciding my health issues if I am not able. "Will I be able to read a book on my own power??" and "Will I be able to drink a Coke?"
Now I'm sorry if someone thinks this is superficial, but other than interacting with my family, drinking a Coke and reading a book are my greatest happinesses in life and if I can't do those,without someone else basically doing it for me, I probably won't be able to interact in any meaningful way with my family. So I say if the answer is no to those two things, then pull my plug!!!!
And so far as your patient refusing meds, food, withdrawing from life. In my experience refusing food in those who aren't deeply depressed, is a clear sign of the beginning of the end. Ask any LTC nurse and she/he can tell you so. And the government and uninformed families force food on these patients to the point of feeding tubes forcing food into bodies that want to go, but have to work and process the food. To me that is cruel and unnatural.
Americans overall, have a great fear and distrust of death, and we go to unnatural lengths to delay it. Including full code orders on patients with terminal, clearly terminal diseases. I am with you. I see these orders and I think WTF is going on in these people's heads??????
I will stop now as I could rant for sixteen pages on this subject, it makes so angry.