Critter Corner: Many Hospice Workers Lack Their Own End-of-Life Directives

Dear Bebe,

Hospice workers come into contact with people who are dying every day. I read recently that many of them don’t even have their own advance medical directives. Is this true? Seems like a no-brainer to me!

Noah Directivs-Ovtherown

Dear Noah,

What you read is correct. Many hospice care workers, who deal with death and dying every day, haven’t outlined their own end-of-life wishes for medical care, researchers say.

In a recent study of about 900 hospice care workers, only 44% had completed an advance medical directive outlining their wishes for care if they’re unable to communicate those wishes themselves.

“Advance directives are associated with fewer hospital deaths, fewer intensive care admissions and fewer life-prolonging measures, as well as better quality of life for patients at the end of life,” said study author Terry Eggenberger, an associate professor in the Florida Atlantic University College of Nursing.
The findings seem surprising, the researchers said, given that hospice care workers regularly see the consequences of not providing medical directions in advance. Procrastination, fear of the subject, and cost were the most common reasons for not drafting an advance directive, according to the report.

The findings were published recently in the American Journal of Medicine.

Talking about end of life issues is an emotional and difficult task for most of us, even for hospice workers who deal with death on a daily basis. However, it is an important first step to making sure your wishes are clear. Once you have taken the step of speaking with your loved ones about your wishes, it is important to develop incapacity planning documents, including an Advance Medical Directive, to make your wishes legally enforceable. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to call Mr. Farr to make an appointment for a no-cost initial consultation.

Hope this is helpful,

Bebe

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