Most Americans don’t make end-of-life decisions
Most people don’t want to think about death and the majority of Americans aren’t planning for it, according to a new study published recently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Researchers reviewed responses to nationwide surveys completed by nearly 8,000 people in 2009 and 2010, and found that only 26 percent had completed an advance directive.
The study results revealed a significant association between completing an advance directive and age, race, education level and status.
Advance directives were more common among whites, women, married people and those who had a college degree or postgraduate training. People with a chronic disease or a regular source of care were also more likely to have completed the written forms.
Those without an advance directive frequently reported a lack of awareness as the reason and the researchers hope their findings will help increase conversations about end-of-life (EOL) care.
However, addressing EOL issues – including the completion of advance directives – is not easy, says Reverend Fred Rajan, vice president of mission and spiritual care at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill.
“No one likes to think of a time when they may not be able to make health care decisions,” Reverend Rajan says. “But it’s important to document your wishes now rather than letting the decisions fall on your loved ones later.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “A plan relieves family members from wondering if they ‘did the right thing’ on your behalf.” It also “provides your health care team with information on your health care preferences and if you would want life-sustaining measures if there appeared to be little likelihood of your recovery.”
If you have yet to complete an advance directive, state-specific forms can be downloaded from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
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