The numbers do not match up. A New England Journal of Medicine study showed that 80% of people wish to die at home; however, only 30% actually DO. Another 30% die in hospital (and closer to 60% in Canada), while 8% do so in hospice care.
A CDC study found that 32% of people do not want CPR - but only 47% of their physicians know this. And of the 76% of people who died with a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, 46% of those were written in the last two days of those people's lives.
It is estimated that advance directives and hospice stays could save about 36% of the USA's healthcare costs in the last months of life. And the population continues to age. In January of 2011, 10K Americans turned 65 daily, and the number will hold for about 8 more years. (These statistics are all from a CDC course on Advance Care Planning.) Meanwhile, younger generation family and friends are grappling with caring for the aging, chronically ill and otherwise disabled. In fact, 1 in 4 households can claim a caregiver.
The numbers are eye opening, and fascinating in a few ways. More and more frequently, as I become experienced and known for traveling to Maine and back to navigate and take care of my father's health, financial and personal business (he has a condition called Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy, which causes brain bleed strokes), I find myself in conversations with family members that can be very, shall we say "tricky," and with friends who are beginning to have to navigate these same familial issues.
Suddenly one day, in a shamanic drum circle journey, I was shown the gap in my healing work, in which I help others with both spiritual and practical needs during life transitions, that end of life was not in my repertoire- though psychopomp, or after death work was. An old friend had explored end-of-life or death doula work, with an eye to hospice, and had come away feeling it was not for her, but she prompted me to check into it. She was right. I am completely immersed, and recently completed a Death Doula certificate course (though most are not certified and there is no federal regulatory body overseeing the profession.)
That was just the beginning. Curiosity brimming, I have jumped in, and I am excited to share my skills and experience with you. We all need help and support, and there is a growing disconnect with death in this country, and a growing need for understanding and planning ahead in a society in which families are scattered about and the senior population is exploding.
Endings are beginnings. Let's journey to the end with light and love. You can contact me
here for more information.