Carolyn and I have been blogging for a couple of years now about how to prepare and engage in tough conversations around issues like end of life planning and ensuring our children know about legacies before we die. We believe these and other dialogues are critical to maintaining family harmony and ensuring that our wishes are fulfilled.
When I read the following survey results, I was struck by the gaps between what people wish for and what they do.
For example a survey of Californians by the California HealthCare Foundation this year found that although 60% of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is “extremely important,” only 56% have communicated their end-of-life wishes.
The same survey reported that while 80% of people state that if seriously ill, they would want to talk to their doctor about end-of-life care, only 7% report having had an end-of-life conversation with their doctor.
Finally the survey revealed that while 83% of people say it’s important to put their wishes in writing, a mere 23% have actually done it.
A separate 2005 Centers for Disease Control survey found that 70% of people asserted they prefer to die at home, but sadly 70% die in a hospital, nursing home, or long-term care facility.
In forthcoming blogs we’ll acquaint you with sources (other than ours) designed to help make these tough conversations easier. Meanwhile, consider which category you fit in: those who wish for the conversation, or those who have carried it out.
(The above statistics came from an excellent article titled “The Conversation Project Helps Identify End-of-Life Wishes,” by Dorian Martin, a self-described Health Guide, which appeared in the Alzheimers Section of www.healthcentral.com. See: http://www.healthcentral.com/alzheimers/c/42/155962/conversation/?ic=4027)