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Residents of Kansas City may be interested to hear that per a new research letter, over 25 percent of older Medicare beneficiaries do not have an advanced care plan in place. Moreover, low income individuals, African Americans and Latinos were the least likely groups to have made care plans to meet their end-of-life needs.

Respondents in the research study were asked questions regarding whether they have spoken with someone else about the medical care they want if they become seriously ill, whether there was a legal proxy in place to make these decisions and whether they had composed an advance directive, which lays out in writing their wishes regarding their medical treatment.

Approximately 2,000 Medicare beneficiaries responded to the survey. Just over 1,150 of them said they did have an end of life discussion with someone else. Nearly 1,000 did have a legal health care proxy in place, and just over 1,000 had compiled an advance directive. However, approximately 30 percent of respondents did not meet any of these elements.

Only 19 percent of older Latinos who spoke Spanish reported having end of life discussions. Only 20 percent were in possession of a legal health care proxy and only 17 percent had created an advance directive. In contrast, of the non-Hispanic white respondents who responded to the survey, 66 percent had discussed their end of life plans, 54 percent had a health care proxy and 59 percent had an advance directive.

These statistics highlight the need for end-of-life care planning. If it is put off for too long, it may be too late. These decisions should be made while the individual is still healthy and competent enough to make them. Not only will having such decisions in place benefit the person making them, but they will also benefit that person’s family, who will know what their loved one’s wishes are, so they can be followed appropriately.

Those unsure how to initiate this process should seek guidance from an experienced attorney. It is imperative that individuals are fully aware of their rights and steps they can take to protect their current and future interests.

Source: Fox News Health, “Some groups getting left behind in advance care planning,” Nov. 1, 2016