New Data on Advance Care Planning During Pandemic Coincides with Preparations for Healthcare Decisions Day

As the toll of COVID-19 continues to climb, newly released poll data suggest an opportunity to use the pandemic as a prompt for discussing and documenting older adults’ wishes for  care, in case of seriously illness or injury.

Overall, 59% of the 50- to 80-year-olds polled said they had had a conversation with loved ones about their preferences in case they became severely ill. That percentage was even higher — 70% — among those over age 65. Just 7% of all older adults polled said COVID-19 had motivated them to have such conversations.

When it came to documenting their preferences in a legally binding way that can guide families and care teams, 46% of those polled said they had completed at least one of two legal documents that could help their loved ones make decisions for them if they can’t do it for themselves. The poll asked about medical durable powers of attorney, and advance directives, often called “living wills.”

All of this data comes ahead of National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16th when several organizations partner to raise awareness about advance care planning issues and promote resources that help families address the topic.

The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative is part of the Mass Coalition on Serious Illness Care and works with many of their members, including Honoring Choices Massachusetts, which has a range of helpful tools on the topic.