End-of-Life Treatment Preferences Among Older Adults

Nursing Ethics 8 (6):533-543 (2001)
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With the advancement of medical technology, various life-sustaining treatments are available at the end of life. Older adults should be encouraged to establish their end-of-life treatment preferences (ELTP) while they are physically and mentally able to do so. The purpose of this study was to explore ELTP among older adults and to compare those preferences in a subset of individuals who had reported their ELTP in a survey completed the previous year. This was a descriptive study of 191 older adults living in a continuing care retirement community. Approximately half of the participants did not want cardiopulmonary resuscitation, to be put on a respirator, or to receive dialysis. The findings in this study suggest that many older adults do not want aggressive interventions at the end of life, but choose rather those measures that will keep them comfortable. Moreover, treatment choices may change over time. Health care providers should initiate discussions about ELTP at regular intervals (yearly) to assist older adults in dictating their end-of-life care



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