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Elders' 'Day-At-A-Time' Approach Neglects Planning
Senior citizens must ensure that their Will, Living Will, Power of Attorney,
funeral plans and healthcare directives are in order
July 19, 2002 -- If the results of a very small survey are applicable
to senior citizens and elderly people in general, many in this group may not be
doing all they can to prepare for serious future illness, researchers suggest.
In a study of 20 chronically ill, housebound patients over 75 years of age, 16
said they did not think about the future or did not in general plan for the future.
Most reported that they took a "one day at a time" or "what is to be will be" approach,
according to the report.
In general, physicians recommend elderly patients take the time to make plans
for themselves in the event that they become seriously ill.
For example, a person should select a "designated healthcare agent" --- someone
who can make important decisions for them in case they are incapacitated by illness.
This person can tell doctors if the patient wants measures to be taken to prolong
their life, such as the insertion of a feeding tube, or if they want a resuscitation
attempt made after cardiac arrest.
"The willingness to consider future illness and the end of life, for example,
is not universal; patients in some communities are reluctant to consider or speak
about such matters," according to Dr. Joseph A. Carrese of Johns Hopkins University
in Baltimore, Maryland.
In the survey, Carrese's team "asked a group of chronically ill elderly patients
about their views on advance planning of care."
While 13 of those interviewed had made Wills and 19 had funeral plans, few had taken
additional steps, the investigators found. Seven people had designated a healthcare
agent and 11 had completed a Living Will, the researchers report in the July 20th
issue of the British Medical Journal.
This was not surprising to USLegalWills.com CEO Tim Hewson. "Although this is
not a large sample, the results do represent the anecdotal evidence that we have
seen from many prospective customers." He notes that "in this study of elderly,
chronically ill patients, few had completed basic planning for the sake of their
loved ones. At USLegalWills.com, we try to emphasize that a few simple acts including
setting up your healthcare directives, can save a great deal of stress and trauma
for your family. If you do not give your loved ones simple guidance for how you
wish to be cared for, you may even be the cause of bitter disputes among relatives
which can divide families for good." Hewson goes on to say: "More importantly, one's
Will, Living Will and
healthcare directives should be set up now. There is nothing to be gained by waiting,
and it doesn't make sense to plan to do it next week, when your relatives may need
this information tomorrow."
(From Reuters Health News, Friday July 19, 2002)
(Note that you can create your Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will online at
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