Dying in America

Who?

2,626,418 deaths in the United States in one year

Average life expectancy 78 years

-Centers for Disease Control, 2014

What?

Top 10 causes of death

#1 Diseases of the heart (heart disease)

#2 Malignant neoplasms (cancer)

#3 Chronic lower respiratory diseases

#4 Accidents (unintentional injuries)

#5 Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke)

#6 Alzheimer’s disease

#7 Diabetes mellitus (diabetes)

#8 Influenza and pneumonia

#9 Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (kidney disease)

#10 Intentional self-harm (suicide)

-Centers for Disease Control, 2014

Where?

Despite 70% of Americans preferring to die at home:

Nearly 70% die in a hospital, nursing home or long-term care facility

-Centers for Disease Control, 2007

80% of patients with chronic diseases say they want to avoid hospitalization and intensive care when they are dying

Only 20-30% of Americans report having an advance directive such as a living will

-Associated Press, 2010

Even when patients have an advanced directive, physicians are often unaware of their patients’ preferences.  One large scale study found that only 25 percent of physicians knew that their patients had advance directives on file

-Critical Care Journal, 2007

We have to do a better job of aligning what people say they want with what they get.  That requires conversations between you and your healthcare providers; you and your family and friends; your family and friends and healthcare providers.   This is more than just filling out a piece of paper or assuming your family and friends know what you want or that your healthcare providers know what you want.  It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work, learn all you can about the choices you can make.

“EDUCATION IS LEARNING WHAT YOU DIDN’T EVEN KNOW YOU DIDN’T KNOW.”- Daniel Boorstin

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