Knowing that talking about end-of-life-care is important and doing anything with the information are two different things. The problem is, if your kids know what you want but you don’t have it written down in a legal document, your wishes may not be followed.
Hospice providers come up against this problem on a regular basis. Our culture is not comfortable with death, talking about it or planning for it, and it’s a real challenge, as reported in the Home Health Care News article, “These States Are Most Concerned About End-of-Life Issues.”
A new study identified several states where end-of-life is on people’s minds. It found that overall, Wisconsin is the state most concerned about end-of-life issues, with New York as a close second. New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Ohio make up the rest of the top five. And the states least concerned about end-of-life issues: Nevada, California, Wyoming, Utah, and Alaska.
As a state with a large senior citizen population, California’s spot in the latter group was somewhat surprising to the researchers. They found that population size has little to no bearing on concern or awareness toward end-of-life issues. They assumed that states like California or Florida, two states that have some of the highest senior citizen populations in the country, would rank at the top of our list for end-of-life issues. However, it turned out that states in the Midwest, like Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Ohio are more concerned about these issues.
To determine which states are thinking the most about end-of-life issues, the study evaluated the prevalence of certain targeted online search terms, like “palliative care,” “estate planning,” “end-of-life care,” “home care,” “caregiver” and “assisted living.” The term “home care” ranked the highest in northeastern states like New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. New York’s interest in home care could, perhaps, be explained by the fact that home health aides and personal care aides are among the state’s largest occupational group, the researchers contend.
Nationally, home care employment is anticipated to increase by more than 40% between 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They found that a state’s interest in a given end-of-life topic was based on a health care-related issue unique to that area.
Although Alaska was toward the bottom of the study, it was first in hospice admissions growth from the second quarter of 2017 to the same period in 2018. In fact, the state’s hospice admissions increased by more than 17%, far outpacing Wisconsin 6.5% growth, according to the latest data.
Alaska, Delaware, and South Dakota all experienced double-digit hospice admissions growth from Q2 2017 to Q2 2018. In contrast, Maine, North Dakota, Nebraska, Hawaii, New York, and Rhode Island all experienced negative growth.
Your estate planning attorney will be able to document your end-of-life care wishes as part of your estate plan. The key factor is time: get this done long before it’s an issue. Consider bringing your family to a meeting at the attorney’s office, so that you are all on the same page. Sometimes having a professional facilitate the discussion, can make it less stressful for everyone.
Reference: Home Health Care News (January 6, 2019) “These States Are Most Concerned About End-of-Life Issues”