How Do You Feel About End-of-Life Planning? [AUDIO]
Most New Jersey residents aren't bothered by the idea of aging, but few are making plans for end-of-life care, according to a "Health Matters" poll released by Monmouth University and the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute.
The survey examined planning for end-of-life care and found that while most New Jerseyans have had some sort of discussion about that type of medical treatment, few have made specific plans.
According to the survey, 45 percent said they are very comfortable with getting older and 28 percent are somewhat comfortable, but 26 percent say aging is something they would rather not think about. Men are more likely than women, 50 to 40 percent, to say they are very comfortable with the idea of getting older, and men are far less likely than women to think about what will happen to them if they develop a terminal illness.
In New Jersey, 6 in 10 adults say they have thought about their own wishes for medical treatment, if they had a disease that caused a great deal of pain with no hope of improvement.
"We know that end-of-life decisions and conversations are some of the most difficult and stressful conversations family members can have," said David Knowlton, president and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, in a press release. "It is encouraging that so many New Jerseyans are at least comfortable with thinking these issues over. The challenge now is to translate that comfort into a meaningful conversation and a written plan that fulfills their wishes."
New Jersey residents start thinking about end-of-life issues after the age of 30, according to the survey, which also found 48 percent of state residents between 18 and 29 years old have thought about what they would like done if they were suffering from a terminal illness. That's compared to 60 percent between the ages of 30 and 49 who think about that, 69 percent of those between 50 and 69, and 65 percent of those 70 and older.
Additionally, the survey said that more than 6 in 10 New Jerseyans have discussed their wishes for end-of-life medical treatment with someone, while 45 percent have put those wishes down in writing. White residents are more likely than black and Latino residents to have had such a discussion or put their wishes in writing, while women (68 percent) are more likely than men (55 percent) to have had an end-of-life treatment discussion -- but they are not any more likely to have those wishes in writing.
As may be expected, planning for potential end-of-life needs varies depending on age. Those 70 and older or between the ages of 50 and 69 are most likely to have discussed these issues with someone than those age 30 to 49 or those age 18 to 29.
"We're happy that a lot of people in New Jersey are aware of the importance of having advance directives and that a majority have started having conversations about it, but few people have started planning financially to take care of themselves at the end of life," said Linda Schwimmer, vice president of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. "We would like to see more awareness and more planning."