It's Easier To Talk About Drugs, Sex Than End-Of-Life Planning

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A new national survey indicates that Americans are more likely to talk with their children about drug use or sex than with a seriously ill parent about their end-of-life wishes. The same survey respondents also shared that they would want others to talk with them about end of life issues. The survey, completed by more than 2,300 individuals, was conducted in conjunction with the first National Healthcare Decisions Day to be held April 16, 2008.

"The survey highlights the need for more attention to advance care planning, which is why National Healthcare Decisions Day is so important," said Nathan A. Kottkamp, chair of the National Healthcare Decision Day initiative. Only a minority of Americans have yet to complete an advance directive. "We still struggle," says Kottkamp, "when it comes to talking about something that happens to every one of us -- dying."

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National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) brings together more than 70 national organizations and 350 state and community organizations who are calling for all Americans to begin the discussion about their healthcare wishes and to create a living will and a healthcare power of attorney.

In Pennsylvania, hospitals and other healthcare organizations are also supporting National Healthcare Decisions Day, offering free information about advance care planning and advance directive forms, according to Randi Siegel, Pennsylvania state liaison for National Healthcare Decisions Day and President of DocuBank, an electronic registry that enables advance directives to be immediately available 24/7.

"There is a lot of help that will be available to Pennsylvanians on National Healthcare Decision Day about how to think about their wishes, execute their directives, and talk to their loved ones about their decisions," said Siegel, who is also encouraging Pennsylvanians not just to complete their advance directives but also to consider storing them electronically so that they will always be available. "It's as important to have access to these documents when they are needed as it is to write them up in the first place."

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