Older Aussies are leaving their medical decisions to chance

Around 70 per cent of Australians leave no instructions regarding end-of-life decisions.

Seniors unprepared for the end

New research from Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) reveals that 70 per cent of older Australians leave no instructions in the event that they are unable to make their own medical decisions. 

Funded by the Australian Government, this landmark study was recently published by BMJ Open and is the largest and most comprehensive study into the prevalence of Advance Care Directives in Australia.

The study involved reviewing de-identified health records at the point-of-care in 51 Australian hospitals, aged care facilities and GP clinics, across six states and territories.

The study found that approximately 30 per cent of people reviewed had an Advance Care Directive – of which some had documented their preferences for care, others had appointed a substitute decision-maker – a person legally empowered to make decisions on their behalf – and some of whom had done both.

“With Australia’s ageing population, it’s concerning that most older Australians are leaving it to chance and not taking active control of their future healthcare,” said ACPA medical director Dr Karen Detering.

“Without a plan, older people may be left vulnerable and potentially without a voice. And far too often, loved ones are left to blindly make decisions under the worst circumstances. As a medical practitioner, I’ve witnessed these scenarios and I can tell you it’s a heart-breaking way to say goodbye to your loved ones.

“The research findings are a great starting point for us to better understand the Australian advance care planning landscape. This valuable baseline data will be used to inform policy in advance care planning, which is becoming an increasing healthcare priority,” explained Dr Detering.

To increase public awareness, ACPA’s National Advance Care Planning Week initiative runs from 1–5 April 2019, encouraging all Australians to make sure their care preferences and values are heard and respected.

Do you have an Advanced Care Directive? Have you empowered someone to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you can’t do it yourself?

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    COMMENTS

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    Cheezil61
    13th Feb 2019
    11:00am
    Hmm this has been on my to do list for a couple of years now (after seeing my dad go thru dementia with no plan other than verbally not wanting to end up in a nursing since forever we can remember - & it makes us so sad knowing this but being faced with no alternative as his care needs far exceed what my mum or any of us 'kids' etc are vapable of providing both physically, mentally & financially! My mum is EPOA unless something happens to her (then one bro & i take it on) but it made & makes no difference either way-we can't handle the decisions that break our hearts! If i do an Adv Care Plan will it matter, considering euthanasia will be only priority failing suicide if i end up with dementia or cancer or such? It is harder now that the only decent doctor in this one horse town has retired & moved on, sadly! So nowhere to go now to seek decent med attention & i have no h3alth insurance & no savings/money/cash thus cannot afford either health insurance or medical costs of any sort anyway & struggle to foot the medicare levy i am forced to pay as part of my taxes (i work so no health care card here)- doomed unless i move to a country with a better medical system & can't afford that either (& no good away from family either)... in this country if you work hard you are kicked in the guts time & again whatever you do & unable to get on the system that seems to provide the good life for everyone else who don't work & want the free ride! :( Destined to work til the hearse picks me up by the look of things -not much fun!
    KB
    13th Feb 2019
    1:05pm
    Yes having a plan in place will ensure that your wishes are met. They cannot be overridden by family or medical staff did mine last year and it is easy to do. You are the one who chooses your medical and end of life setting. Your family do not have the male the decisions but they have to abide what you have stated.
    Old Geezer
    13th Feb 2019
    3:17pm
    Unfortunately may doctors think they know best and will ignore them.
    ray from Bondi
    13th Feb 2019
    4:32pm
    yep for once or it is twice sir old Geezer we are in agreement we have no real control and voluntary euthanasia becomes common, I thought the libs would go for it for sure so they do not have supply care or medicine to the needy, Oh well it will come.
    gerry
    13th Feb 2019
    5:47pm
    because these damn religious people have control over my body they relish putting me thru abject pain ,being kicked and slapped in a care home,unable to move for bed sores
    Soon I am going to drive my car at a large catholic church and see how they like pain and all because I am not allowed to press the button
    gerry
    13th Feb 2019
    5:47pm
    because these damn religious people have control over my body they relish putting me thru abject pain ,being kicked and slapped in a care home,unable to move for bed sores
    Soon I am going to drive my car at a large catholic church and see how they like pain and all because I am not allowed to press the button
    Florgan
    13th Feb 2019
    8:36pm
    Giving advice on how to implement this should have been included in this article
    Maggie
    14th Mar 2019
    11:51am
    You can find the form on the internet alongside helpful suggestions as to go about filling it in. Alternatively you can request a form through your doctor or the nurse at your community centre. There are nurses who are especially dedicated to this task and they are very helpful - to the point of typing it up for you.

    Once you are satisfied that your wishes are detailed you will need to get your doctor to sign it. A dedicated nurse will then upload it onto the Medicare records. This is a really good thing to have done, since if you land up in hospital it will be readily accessible for immediate implementation.

    You should see that all of your nearest and dearest have copies and understand your wishes.

    Nobody then has the right to ignore your wishes and if they do they put themselves at risk legally. This is a much stronger Advanced care directive than existed until last year.


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