Death, dying still taboo topics

MOST Australians don't discuss dying and death with their family or loved ones, a new survey has found.

Patsy Yates, vice-president of Palliative Care Australia, said while death and dying was not an easy topic for discussion, it was a very important one.

“There's no escaping that we will all die eventually, and everyone deserves quality care at that time,” she said yesterday at the start of National Palliative Care Week.

The study found that 80% of Australians have not recorded a care plan and while 74% said they would prefer to die at home, only 16% achieve that.

Joanne Cooper, clinical nurse consultant for the Northern NSW Local Health Network, agreed and encouraged older residents to complete an advanced care directive or an advanced care plan to avoid a loved one's death “lurching from one crisis to another”.

“That way their wishes can be documented while they are able to speak, relieving stress for loved ones,” she said, explaining any plan could be changed if circumstances changed.

Palliative Care Australia commissioned the independent online survey of 1000 Australians to gauge community views on dying and palliative care as part of National Palliative Care Week, which runs from May 22 to 28.

The research underpins a new campaign, Let's Chat about Dying, that encourages people to talk about the difficult issues around death and dying and is now supported by a range of information resources available on its website, www.palliativecare.org.au.


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