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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why Are Americans Scared to Talk About Dying?

The number of people with legal documents detailing how they want to die remains low, suggesting talk of death is still largely taboo.

By Marina Koren
The National Journal
Originally posted December 10, 2013

Imagine you're brain-dead. There was an accident, and your loved ones have gathered at your hospital bed to hear the doctors say there's not much else they can do. What would you want to happen?

It's a scenario that's as terrifying as it is unpredictable. The thought of it pushes some people to iron out end-of-life decisions long before it's too late, some when they're still healthy. They sign advance directives, legal documents, which include living wills and do-not-resuscitate orders, that outline what families and doctors can and can't do when people become patients.

In the United States, dying inside a hospital rather than at home may be more realistic than we'd care to admit. Still, many Americans tend to avoid talking about their own end-of-life wishes, according to new research published Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Of 7,946 people polled in a national health survey, just 26 percent had completed an advance directive.

The entire article is here.
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