What the very old think about death and dying
8 April 2016
Death is a part of life for people aged over 95, who mainly live day-to-day, says a study of attitudes to death and dying among the very old.
The research, published by PLOS One, shows people in this age group are willing to discuss dying and their end-of-life care, but are seldom asked.
“Despite the dramatic rise in the number of people living into very old age, there is far too little discussion about what the oldest old feel about the end of their lives,” says Dr Jane Fleming from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge, who led the study.
“We know very little, too, about the difficult decisions concerning their end-of-life care.”
Dr Fleming and her team interviewed 33 people aged over 95 about attitudes to death, dying and end-of-life care. Nine were too frail to be interviewed alone so a proxy (relative or caregiver) was used.
Many of the older people referred to “taking each day as it comes”, says Dr Fleming. Most are not afraid of dying and accept it will happen soon.
One man described how his mother-in-law had given a long-life light bulb to her granddaughter, saying: “Something for you, it’s not worth me having.”
Discussion of funeral preferences is more common than talking about death, and the manner of death is of more concern than its imminence, say to the reachers.
“Death is clearly a part of life for people who have lived to such an old age,” says Dr Fleming. “So the older people we interviewed were usually willing to discuss dying, a topic often avoided.”
Last Reviewed: 08/04/2016
Reproduced with kind permission from 6minutes.com.au.
Work longer to live longer
Retiring early is associated with dying early no matter how healthy or unhealthy a person is, a US study has shown.
The real risk of too much TV
It's official, research shows that increased time spent watching television is associated with increased deaths rates in older adults.
Anorexia: only a third of sufferers under medical care
Only a third of people with anorexia are being monitored by a healthcare professional, with many admitted to hospital so late they are at risk of dying, Australian study finds.
Video: Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
Video: Sadly, 84 Australians die of bowel cancer each week. However, if caught early 9 out of 10 bowel cancers can be successfully treated. Watch this video to find out more about bowel cancer and hear from Anton Enus how bowel cancer screening allowed his cancer to be detected.
Heavy body throughout lifespan linked to premature death
People who have a heavy body shape throughout their lifespan have a greater risk of premature death.