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Have you spoken with loved ones about death or dying? / ¿Has hablado con tus seres queridos sobre la muerte o el hecho de morirte? / 你和你愛的人談論過死亡嗎?

Español | 中文簡體

A top priority for most Californians at end of life is to not be a burden on loved ones. But less than half have actually spoken to family about what they would want to happen if they are incapacitated, according to a recent study. This is especially true for minorities. Asians and Latinos are the least likely to have communicated with family members about end-of-life wishes, leaving the responsibility to make excruciating decisions — such as whether to insert a feeding tube after loss of brain function or to harvest organs — to family members.

A 2011 study from the California Health Care Foundation found that while 54 percent of white Americans have spoken about their wishes, only 31 percent of Latinos and 33 percent of Asians have done so. The number of Californians who have put their wishes in writing is even lower, and again Latinos and Asians are the least likely to have done so: 9 percent of Latinos and 21 percent of Asians, compared with 33 percent of whites.

The top reason Asian respondents gave for not discussing end-of-life wishes was “they have too many things to worry about right now”; Latinos said they “don’t want to think about death or dying.” Other contributing factors could be cultural taboos surrounding speaking about death or doctors failing to encourage minorities to have these conversations, according to experts.One way to have that conversation — and to document it — is by filling out an advance health care directive with a loved one. These forms ensure that family and friends know what you would want for health care if you are unable to communicate with a doctor, ensuring your wishes are followed and sparing others the burden of making these decisions for you at a time of incredible stress. Another measure intended to complement the advanced directive is a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST), which is signed by both physician and patient and is specially designed for seriously ill patients. Both are available in multiple languages.

¿Has hablado con tus seres queridos sobre la muerte o el hecho de morirte?

Una prioridad principal para la mayoría de californianos al final de su vida es no ser una carga para sus seres queridos. Pero menos de la mitad han hablado con su familia sobre lo que querrían que pasara si quedan incapacitados, según un reciente estudio. Esto es especialmente cierto entre las minorías. Los asiáticos y los latinos son los que tienen menos probabilidades de haber hablado con sus familiares sobre sus deseos al morir, dejando la responsabilidad de hacer decisiones cruciales – como si insertar un tubo para que puedaan ser alimentadis después de la muerte cerebral o donar los órganos a sus familiares.

Un estudio de 2011 de la California Health Care Foundation halló que mientras que el 54 por ciento de los americanos blancos ha hablado sobre sus deseos, sólo el 31 por ciento de los latinos y el 33 por ciento de los asiáticos lo han hecho. El número de californianos que han puestos sus deseos por escrito es aún menor, y de nuevo los latinos y los asiáticos son los que tienen menos probabilidad de haberlo hecho: 9 por cierto de latinos y 21 por ciento de asiáticos, comparado con 33 por ciento de blancos.La principal razón que los asiáticos encuestados dieron para no hablar sobre sus deseos tras la muerte es que “tienen demasiadas cosas por las que preocuparse en estos momentos”; los latinos dijeron que “no quieren pensar sobre la muerte o morirse”. Otros factores que pueden contribuir a ello son los tabús culturales sobre hablar sobre la muerte o los doctores que no urgen suficientemente a las minorías a tener estas conversaciones, según los expertos.

Una manera de tener esa conversación, y documentarla, es completando junto a los seres queridos el directorio del sistema de salud avanzado en estos formularios aseguran que tanto la familia como los amigos estén al tanto de lo que cada persona decide en cuanto a salud en caso de que no pueda ser comunicado personalmente a un doctor. De esta manera, se asegura que sus deseos se van a cumplir, ahorrándole a los seres queridos el dolor de tomar estas decisiones en momentos de profundo estrés.

Otra medida cuyo objetivo es complementar los formularios del sistema de salud avanzado, es la Orden Fisiológica de Tratamientos de Vida Sustentable (POLST) el que debe ser firmado tanto por el paciente como por su médico tratante y está especialmente diseñado para pacientes con enfermedades graves. Ambos formularios están disponibles en múltiples idiomas. 



根據加州健保基金會一項2011年的研究, 有54%的白人會與家人溝通臨終規劃,只有31%的拉丁裔人和33%的亞裔人會這樣做。會把臨終規劃寫下來的加州人更少,和33%這樣做的白人相比,只有9%的拉丁裔和21%的亞裔會這樣做。


其中一個談論或紀錄臨終規劃的方法是填寫一個提前規劃表格. 這個表格可以確保家人和朋友知道你在失去交流能力後想要他們怎樣做,這樣他們就不用在擔負極大壓力的情況下為你做決定。另外一個做臨終規劃的方法是醫生指導下的生命維持治療(POLST). 這個為病重的人特別設計的表格由醫生和病人共同簽署。兩種表格都多種語言供選擇。 

Advanced directives / 提前規劃: English | Español | 中文 | VietnamesePOLST / 醫生指導下的生命維持治療: English | Español | 中文繁體 | 中文簡體

Daniela Gerson wrote this article for Alhambra Source with support from a California Healthcare Foundation  Journalism Fellowship, a project of New America Media in collaboration with the Stanford In-reach for Successful Aging through Education Program.

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