Living wills enliven debate about death

Updated: 2016-11-03 07:58

By Liu Zhihua(China Daily)

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Living wills enliven debate about death

A patient walks with the help of a wheeled walking frame at the Beijing Songtang Hospice, which offers care services for terminally ill patients.Photos By Zhang Yu / Xinhua

She believes that a key step would be for the health authorities to include living wills in patients' official medical records, so their physicians will know exactly what treatment they would be willing to undergo as their life draws to a close.

Quality of life

Song Yuetao, assistant to the president of the Beijing Geriatric Hospital, said people are increasingly aware that quality of life is more important than longevity.

In the past, it was difficult to talk about death with dying patients, and the phrase "living wills" - which translates as "requests before death" in Chinese - was shunned because it sounded ominous.

The hospital's own version of the living will - which allows testators to "reject invasive rescue and treatments" - has been welcomed by patients and their families.

"Chinese people often say that it's better to live in misery than to die, but nowadays people are more prepared to question those traditional ideas," Song said.

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