End-of-life health decisions

    Hospice experts say getting the care you want starts with discussions with family and friends.

    The care people want at the end of their lives may be out of sync with the choices their family members would make for them. That’s according to a new study of older people from across the Philadelphia region.



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    Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University spoke with about 200 older patients and asked what kind of care they would want if they had advanced Alzheimer’s dementia. When researchers posed that same scenario to each patient’s proxy decision maker often the answers did not match up.

    Parks: So when we looked at treatment preferences regarding CPR, that’s resuscitation, as well as feeding tube preferences amongst the older patients, over the age of 70. They would want those interventions less frequently for themselves than when the proxys answered the same question.

    Dr. Susan Parks says the proxy decision maker was often a spouse, but sometimes a close friend or adult child. She says the study underscores the need to share end-of-life wishes in both conversation and writing.

    Parks says only about 20 percent of Americans have any kind advance directive to guide family members and healthcare providers.

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