The Nebraskans for Compassionate Care believes too few Nebraskans are making plans for the last days of their lives. And the group wants state lawmakers to take steps to encourage residents to change their approach.
"The disconnect is huge and the place to start is to get people talking in their families and talking with their physicians", said Nebraska Hospice spokesman Jonathon Kurtz. His group commissioned a new study that shows just 59 percent of Nebraska residents had a conversation with their spouse or partner about how they want to handle their end of life.
That same survey shows 22 percent of Nebraskans have spoken with their attorney. And just 5 percent have spoken with their doctor about how they want to handle their end of life. The group formed after Dr. Kevorkian and physician-assisted suicide became an issue in the late 1990's. "It created an impetus for us here in Nebraska to take a look at how we can improve end of life care", adds Nebraska Catholic Conference and committee member Greg Schleppenbach.
The group will now send recommendations to the state legislature for consideration. Those recommendations include...
1) Lawmakers act to encourage Nebraskans to make decisions about end of life well in advance of their senior years.
2) Improve education on pain issues. They note many Nebraskans fear pain management will be inadequate and that may influence their decision on life-support.
3) Improve awareness of hospice resources available in the state
4) Work with clergy on end of life issues
5) Work with health care professionals by making them aware that patients should speak up on how they want to be handled if life support becomes an issue, or if pain management is an issue.