Old people want to die

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Very old people would like to talk about dying, but seem to have little opportunity to do so, says a new study on the subject. (Image: Fotolia.de)

We live longer and longer. This is why more and more people are dying over the age of 90 today. They have completely different needs and, on average, need significantly more support than old people in their late 80s. But we hardly know what they really want.



The researcher Jane Fleming and her colleagues found out in a study that, although the majority of people aged 95 and over view death as part of their life and like to talk about their dying, they rarely have the opportunity to do so. The researchers spoke in detail to 33 men and women who were at least 95 years old.

Fleming complains that there are indeed some studies on the situation of old people, but these concentrated mostly on the «younger old people» up to 85 years. In the last year of their life they needed significantly more support than people who die in their late 80s, the question arose for them: What do we know about what the oldest elderly actually want when it comes to caring for them at the end of their lives?

Have important conversations

In the intensive discussions for their new qualitative study, Fleming and her team found that many of these old people don't care too much about tomorrow. They often said that they take every day as it comes, that death is part of life for them. Some of the respondents even waited impatiently to die. But they were concerned about the process of dying. Most of those affected wanted care that would make the end of life and dying as pleasant as possible for them, medical-curative treatments were less important to them. And: You wish you didn't have to go to the hospital. The respondents were also concerned about how those around them would cope with their death.

It is interesting that the researchers found that the understanding of families rarely deviated from the wishes of the elderly. Nevertheless, in order to ensure that the wishes of those affected are taken into account, it is very important to discuss the specific options for their situation with the elderly and not simply assume that the family knows what they want anyway. According to this study, the willingness of those affected to have these conversations and to formulate their wishes in view of death is generally very high. Few showed no interest in talking about it. However, many of the respondents mentioned that they had not previously talked about death, or when they did, then in the form of allusions or whitewashed with humor.

Jane Fleming therefore writes in an article in "The Conversation" that in order to plan care for the elderly and to be prepared for a world in which large numbers of people die in a very high atler, we need to know more about them Priorities for the very old on the verge of death.
Medinside / PLOS ONE / palliative zh + sh

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