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Advance directives needed and heeded

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A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that a large number of seniors will reach a point where they will be unable to make their own healthcare decisions. For seniors who want to keep health care consistent with their wishes, an advanced directive may be the solution.

Researchers based at the University of Michigan studied the medical records of 3,746 adults aged 60 or older who died between 2000 and 2006, of which 42.5 percent required health care decisions. Of that group, 70.3 percent required others to make health care decisions for them. And of that group, 67.6 percent had advance directives in place to ensure their wishes were known.

Generally, advance directives stipulated limited care or comfort care as opposed to aggressive life-sustaining treatments and procedures.

An encouraging finding for those seniors who currently have or are seeking advance directives, the study found that patients with advance directives received care strongly aligned with their preferences.

To view the study’s abstract, click here.