Although it is a conversation none of us want to have, it appears patients that have end-of-life conversations with their doctors die with more east than patients who do not.
A study of 332 cancer patients who eventually died was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Medical Oncology. Compared with the patients who did not recall having end-of-life discussions with their doctors, those who did were 1.6 times more likely to enter a hospice in time to receive its benefits--that is, to die as comfortable a death as possible.
In the study, people who entered hospice two months or more before death reported the best quality of life in their final weeks. They were three times more likely to complete a do-not-resuscitate order and two times more likely to fill out a living will.
Those who didn't recall having end-of-life conversations were more likely admitted to the ICU, to be placed on a ventilator or to undergo resuscitation before their eventual death.
The report said that people who receive aggressive care generally report a worse quality of life than those who do not. It is for that reason that it is important for seniors and those with terminal illnesses to talk to their care providers and physicians about the type of care they want to receive. These conversations should ideally happen when the person is still relatively healthy--and should happen sooner than later, because health conditions can change rapidly.