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It’s time to talk about your final moments of life, survey suggests

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Most people know little or nothing about what happens in one’s final hours, U.K. survey says Most respondents to a recent survey in the U.K. said they aren’t sure what will happen in their final days, a sign of the challenges faced by health-care providers there and in Canada when helping aging populations die with dignity. Six in ten people said they know little or nothing about what happens in the final hours of life, according to the data released Thursday. But — while it might sound like a grim thing to plan — a doctor affiliated with the survey said it’s crucial for people to talk to their friends, families and health providers about how they want to spend their last moments. “There is no book of Dying for Dummies, unfortunately,” said Dr. Irene Higginson, director of the Cicely Saunders Institute in London, and a palliative care physician. “The taboo that often surrounds death, dying and palliative care in society is often reflected by policymakers who don’t support enough facilities and research.” If people don’t plan and tell their loved ones how they want to spend their final days, she said they’re likely to die in hospitals “where they don’t want to be — or not getting enough care in the community.” ‘People don’t want to bring it up’ Most respondents to a recent survey in the U.K. said they aren’t sure what will happen in their final days, a sign of the challenges faced by health-care providers there and in Canada when helping aging populations die with dignity. Six in ten people said they know little or nothing about what happens in the final hours of life, according to the data released Thursday. But — while it might sound like a grim thing to plan — a doctor affiliated with the survey said it’s crucial for people to talk to their friends, families and health providers about how they want to spend their last moments. “There is no book of Dying for Dummies, unfortunately,” said Dr. Irene Higginson, director of the Cicely Saunders Institute in London, and a palliative care physician. “The taboo that often surrounds death, dying and palliative care in society is often reflected by policymakers who don’t support enough facilities and research.” If people don’t plan and tell their loved ones how they want to spend their final days, she said they’re likely to die in hospitals “where they don’t want to be — or not getting enough care in the community.” The survey roughly echoes Canadians’ understandings of dying and end-of-life care, said Sharon Baxter, executive director of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association. “Canadians still don’t feel comfortable talking about what their end of life might look like,” Baxter said. “People don’t want to bring it up and health-care providers don’t bring it up either.” While more than half of Canadians have talked to their spouses about the final wishes, less than 10 per cent have discussed the issue with their doctor, she said, citing separate polling commissioned by her group. Read the full story on CBC News

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