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psc brown bag iconIf Nothing is Certain But Death and Taxes, Why Do So Few Americans Prepare for the End of Life?

Deborah Carr (Department of Sociology and Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, Rutgers University)

09/13/2010, at noon in room 6050 ISR-Thompson.

Of the roughly 2 million deaths in the United States each year, the vast majority strike older adults suffering from long-term illnesses. Dying older adults who do not make plans for their end-of-life medical care often are subject to futile, costly, and potentially distressing life-extending treatments. Although Americans have the opportunity to prepare for end of life health care via the use of advance directives, relatively few take these steps to ensure decision-making autonomy. In this talk, I will present data from two samples –healthy, white adults in their early 60s (Wisconsin Longitudinal Study), and terminally ill black, white and Hispanic adults in later life (New Jersey End of Life Study) – to document the psychosocial, religious, and structural influences on end-of-life preparations and preferences.


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