No one wants to think about a life that will someday end, let alone plan for it. Regardless of health issues and their severity, the prospect of facing mortality is often too much for people to cope with. Emotion gets in the way and often delays the need to take much needed, proactive steps.
For nearly 50 years, health professionals have promoted advance healthcare directives, more commonly known as living wills, and their numerous benefits. Yet, in spite of the hype, only one-third of U.S. adults have one at the ready.
Health Affairs recently published their analysis of 150 studies that reviewed the proportion of adults who completed living wills. Out of 800,000 people studied, only 37 percent completed the necessary documents.
Specific results revealed:
- Twenty-nine percent completed living wills
- Thirty-three percent filed health care proxies
- Thirty-two percent filed some form of advance directive, but did not specify
Age breakdowns show that 46 percent of people 65 and older filed a living will. Only 32 percent of younger people took that step.
Perhaps the most concerning statistic reveals minimal differences when it comes to health. Thirty-three percent of those who enjoyed good health had an advance healthcare directive in place while only 38 percent of those took action after they became sick.
Regardless of who is delivering the “pro-living will” message, overcoming the reluctance is the largest obstacle. People naturally struggle with orders not to resuscitate or even the mere prospect of making plans now when they do not know what the future holds.