ABA Commissioned Poll Finds More than Twice As Many Americans Talk About Planning For Healthcare Emergencies Than Take Action


Chicago, IL (CompNewsNetwork) -  While more than three-quarters of Americans have discussed how they want to be cared for in the event they are incapacitated and unable to make their own health care decisions, less than one-third (30 percent) have actually legally appointed someone to act on their behalf.

That is one of the findings in a recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive for the American Bar Association. 

The poll also showed that older Americans, those living in the south and those with annual incomes of at least $50,000 are more likely than other people to have discussed how they want to be cared for if they are unable to make their own health care decisions.

The same poll showed that barely half of single, never-married adults have discussed their health care wishes.  It also showed that the group least likely to discuss their wishes for care if they become incapacitated are men aged 18 to 34.

And yet, according to 2005 information from the Centers for Disease Control, young men aged 15 to 24 have three times as many deaths as do women in the same age group and in the 20 to 29 age group, men have twice as many deaths as similarly aged women, indicating that young men are a group in need of advance directives.

Advance directives refer to documents that outline a person's treatment preferences or that designate an individual as a surrogate who can make decisions in the event that the person is unable to act on her or his own behalf.

"Advance planning for healthcare decisions is something none of us can afford to ignore," said American Bar Association President William H. Neukom.  "It's tempting to feel invulnerable when we are young, but statistics make a powerful case for advance planning.

"Making healthcare decisions offers people peace of mind and limits the potential for discord among families," Neukom added. "The ABA supports advance planning so people can consider their decisions thoughtfully rather than feel pressured to decide on behalf of a loved one or family member in the emotional aftermath of an accident or sudden illness."

The poll conducted by Harris Interactive for the ABA done online between April 9 and 11 queried 2,092 U.S. residents 18 years of age and older. Results were weighted as needed for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income.  Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

Education level makes little difference in whether or not a person has an advance directive as 30 percent of those with a high school education or less have made their wishes known compared to 28 percent of those with some college and 34 percent of those who have at least a bachelor's degree.

Information about healthcare advance directives is available from the ABA at www.abanet. org/aging/publications/docs/consumer_tool_kit_bk.pdf or by contacting the Lawyer Referral Service at www.findlegalhelp.org .

About the ABA

With more than 413,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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