Leading South Australian ageing care provider ECH (Enabling Confidence at Home) is shining a light on the need for Australians to talk openly about death with their family members and loved ones to ensure any specific wishes or choices can be fulfilled.
Australia faces a significant societal challenge as death continues to be a subject that people shy away from, and due to shifting cultural norms and family structures, growing numbers of people are either reluctant or find this a very difficult topic to talk about.
Further adding to current concerns, Australia has one of the lowest rates in the developed world for people aged over 70 exercising their right to die at home, with the majority dying in hospital or residential care. This alarming trend is adding to the strain on hospitals and the health care system in general and is contrary to what many people want.
As part of a new campaign, which will appear across television, digital platforms and social media, ECH is highlighting the importance of talking about death and how having a conversation about your wishes can have a positive impact on the entire family and associated relationships. You can find more information at ech.asn.au/goodlifetotheend
ECH chief executive Dr David Panter said part of having a good life is being able to have a good death.
“A third of us think about death or dying at least once a week, yet most people still find it difficult to talk about1. Death has become clinical and medicalised and all too often older people don’t feel able to plan for a good death,” said Dr Panter.
“People will have different views on where they may like to die and for some it may be at home with family and friends around them. Whatever your wish it’s important to have an open conversation with your family and friends so they are clear about your choices and can help these be fulfilled when the time comes. This conversation can also ease any stress and concerns that may have otherwise been bottled up and not spoken about.”
According to the Productivity Commission, 70 per cent of people want to die at home but only 10 per cent of people aged over 70 get to experience that wish2.
While the vast majority of people avoid having these conversations, ECH is hopeful that the campaign will encourage people to break the stigma and start a conversation.
“The earlier you start these conversations the better, so your friends and family understand your wishes.”
“Communicating your wishes not only prepares you for your own future but can also enable those around you to speak freely so that when the time comes, everyone can feel more prepared.”
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