-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Life expectancy is a
topic many disabled seniors want to talk about with their doctors
but very few have that discussion, a new study finds.
It included 60 elderly patients with an average age of 78 who
had multiple illnesses and disabilities and lived in a
community-based, long-term care program in San Francisco. None of
the patients had been diagnosed with a specific terminal
Interviews with the patients revealed that 75 percent would want
a conversation about their prognosis if their doctor felt they had
less than a year to live, while 65 percent would welcome such a
dialogue if they likely had fewer than five years to live.
However, only one of the 60 patients reported having such a
discussion with a doctor, said the researchers at the San Francisco
VA Medical Center and the University of California, San
Wanting to prepare for death, making the most of their remaining
time and making medical or life decisions were among the most
common reasons the patients gave for wanted to discuss their
"When physicians bring up prognosis, it's usually thought of as a health issue, but for the person on the receiving end, the conversation is about a lot more than that," lead author Cyrus Ahalt, a geriatrics research coordinator in UCSF's Department of Medicine, said in a university news release.
"We've made big strides in changing the way that doctors communicate prognosis to patients who have cancer, organ diseases or other terminal diagnoses, but this study shows that we still have room to grow in discussing life expectancy with frail older adults who have poor prognosis simply because of multiple physical or cognitive impairments or old age," added principal investigator Dr. Alexander Smith, a physician at SFVAMC and a bioethics expert and assistant professor of medicine in the division of geriatrics.
The study was published online Nov. 30 in the
Journal of General Internal Medicine.
The AGS Foundation for Health in Aging has more about
communication between seniors and their
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.