Who wants to talk about end of life? Not many, study finds

Q: I just turned 83 and want to sit down with my family to discuss care and end-of-life issues. Since I am still in relatively good health, my children keep putting off the conversation. How can I convince them this is an important topic for me to discuss with them?

A: Kudos to you for being willing to broach this sometimes sensitive topic with your family.

Despite a continuing nationwide dialogue, many Americans still tend to avoid addressing their own end-of-life (EOL) issues, including the completion of advance directives.

In a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, a group of investigators examined the factors associated with advance directive completion.

Although various national polls and selected state surveys provide some insight into American attitudes about advanced directives, there is a lack of population-based data about advance directive completion among adults.

For this study, investigators analyzed data from the 2009 and 2010 Porter Novelli HealthStyles national surveys, which included EOL and advance directive-specific questions. The team looked at responses from 7,946 participants in the HealthStyles survey and found that only 26.3 percent had completed an advance directive.

Investigators found that the most frequently reported reason for not having one was lack of awareness.

“The study provides information from a large sample of adults on their attitudes and behaviors regarding advance directives,” said Lynda A. Anderson, Ph.D. and director of the Healthy Aging Program, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While several investigations have shown that health care costs are greatest during the final years of life, researchers found that the use of advance directives was associated with lower levels of Medicare spending and a lower likelihood of in-hospital deaths.

Try to convince your family that it’s important to you that your wishes be carried out. It might help to consult an attorney in advance to have an idea what you would like to see happen as you age before you meet with family. Remember to think about care options as well. Older adults are staying at home longer than ever with the wealth of resources now available.

Contact Home Instead Senior Care office to discover the many options available to remain at home as you age.

For additional details about this study, visit www.eurekalert. org/pub-releases/2013-12/ehs- moa120413 .php?asid=b0517ae9.

For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact DeLauter at 866-522-6533 or visit

DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lewisburg, which serves Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Lycoming, Clinton, Montour and Columbia counties.