One of the certainties of life is death, so we might as well plan for it.
Although medical advancements have improved health and wellness, extended lifespans have complicated decisions around end-of-life care while also giving individuals options about the way they prefer to die.
Still, only 36 percent of U.S. adults have completed an advanced directive for end-of-life care, according to the peer-reviewed journal "Health Affairs."
The scenario is not uncommon: Through generations, many families have been divided after a loved one's illness or passing because no arrangements were made in advance or there is no will for the estate.
Cultural differences and trends also make starting a dialogue about death more complex. The emerging "death-positive movement" attempts to change the stigma by taking the shame and fear away from mortality.
Why is there so much reluctance to talk about this inevitable part of human existence? What do we need to do before we die – legally, medically, and for our loved ones?
- K.T. Whitehead, elder law attorney with The Whitehead Law Firm
- Sandra Sanchez-Reilly, M.D., professor and palliative medicine section chief at UT Health San Antonio, and chief of geriatrics at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System
- Kelly MacLean, comedian and host of the When You Die Podcast
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