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Engagement in Non-Medical End-of-Life Planning by Older Adults.

Tu SS, O'Leary JR, Fried TR. Engagement in Non-Medical End-of-Life Planning by Older Adults. Journal of pain and symptom management. 2021 Oct 1; 62(4):805-812.

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CONTEXT: While medical end-of-life planning has been well characterized, less is known about non-medical planning to prepare for the end of life. OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of engagement in non-medical end-of-life (EOL) planning and its relationship to medical EOL planning. METHODS: Three hundred and four persons age 65 and older recruited from physician offices and a senior center were administered an in-person interview asking about participation in the following non-medical EOL planning behaviors: moving to a location with more help, teaching someone to do things around the house, purchasing long-term care insurance, telling someone the location of important documents, preparing a financial will, conveying wishes for funeral arrangements, purchasing a cemetery plot, and prepaying for a funeral. RESULTS: Prevalence of participation in the different non-medical EOL planning activities varied widely, from 8% for prepaying for a funeral to 84% for telling someone the location of important documents. There was little overlap in the factors associated with participation in each activity. Conveying wishes for funeral arrangements and completing a financial will were associated with completing a living will (OR 2.69, 95% CI 1.51, 4.78; OR 6.70, 95% CI 3.18, 14.15) and communication about quality versus quantity of life (OR 4.52, 95% CI 2.54, 8.04; OR 2.47, 95% CI 1.25, 4.86). CONCLUSION: There is variability in both the prevalence of and factors associated with engagement in non-medical EOL planning activities. The association of non-medical with medical planning activities supports the utility of programs assisting individuals with broad engagement in EOL planning.

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