A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reports the number of Americans who have prepared their Last Wills remains at 45 percent while a record number of today’s older Americans (72%) are completing Living Wills.
Why the uptick in Living Wills and what is the difference between the two?
A Last Will distributes property to beneficiaries, specifies last wishes and names guardians for minor children while a Living Will or Advance Directive outlines important healthcare decisions like whether you want to remain on life support in certain medical situations.
Dr. Maria Silveira, the co-author of the new study, believes the increase in Living Wills (up nearly 100% since 2000) points to a more relaxed attitude toward death among the aging population. “People seem more comfortable having the talk about those dire ‘what-if’ scenarios and death in general,” Silveira said. “It’s become part of the routine check list in getting your affairs in order, especially for older adults.”
Dr. Silveira thinks the rising trend also indicates a newfound desire for the elderly to ease the burden on friends and family when it comes to making decisions on their End-of-Life medical treatment. “There’s been a great push to encourage more people to complete Advance Directives with the idea that this may increase hospice care and reduce hospitalization for patients during the last six months of life,” Silveira said.
“While we found there is an upward trend in creating these documents, it didn’t have much bearing on hospitalization rates over the decade,” Silveira said. In the end, “Living Wills really are just devices that ensure people’s preferences get respected, not devices that can control whether a person chooses to be hospitalized before death.”
When it comes to making a Last Will or Living Will for your or your loved ones, “As a family, it can never be too early to talk about these issues.” Silveira said.
Read the story here.