Majority of Canadians have not made end-of-life care decisions
80 percent of Canadians do not have a Living Will to express what types of care they would and would not accept to prolong their lives, according to a national poll. Less than 50 percent have discussed the issue with their loved ones, and only 9 percent have discussed their wishes with their doctor. Less than 50 percent have chosen who would act as their substitute decision maker if they became incapacitated.
Canadians, as a whole, wait until it is too late to make end-of-life treatment decisions, according to Dr. Daren Heyland, professor of medicine at Queen’s University, as quoted by the Vancouver Sun. "We’re harming people at the end of life when we should be celebrating their lives and providing them with dignified comfort measures."
Dr. Heyland and his colleagues interviewed elderly patients at the end of their lives and asked them what types of medical intervention they would want. They found that only 1/3 of the patients’ wishes corresponded with the "code status" on their charts.
Dr. Robert Fowler, an associate professor in medicine and critical care at the University of Toronto said, "the expectation today is that every illness can be cured, and that there is always hope. We’re going to have to come to terms with the notion that death is inevitable. Clearly, for all of us, there is ultimately going to be something that can’t be cured."
While people are well, they should make decisions about the types of invasive care they would want, because once they are in the intensive care unit, it may be too late to make critical decisions that may increase their pain and suffering, diminish their quality of life, and may only prolong their death.