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Dying, death and social media

September 19, 2011
Guest host Kathy Kastner introduces an, as yet, unexplored topic for this week’s #hcsmca and helps set the stage with this post.

By Kathy Kastner (@kathykastner)

As host of this week’s #hcsmca chat (Sept 21, 2011), I’d like to talk about social media and dying. I think advance care and end-of-life planning concerns us all, especially given the coming tsunami of aging boomers and the fact that end-of-life care costs amount to 25% of our total healthcare budget.

It’s largely the array of interventions and attendant machinery that make up much of the costs associated with end-of-life care. But how many people have sufficient knowledge of our advanced care options? How many of us know what to expect at the end of our days?

We’ve all been or will be touched by dying and death. Yet, dying and death remain taboo topics for many people. According to research most people want to ‘go naturally’ with comfort care treatment , which is what palliative and hospice care are all about. This shift of focus from cure to comfort reduces both financial and emotional costs.

Check out this post Managing Healthcare Costs by Atul Gawande. Along with tackling cost reduction issues, his key message reads:

“Let’s talk to our loved ones about what kind of care they would want if they were unimaginably sick. Let’s not wait until they have tubes in every orifice, and we can’t talk to them. Let’s tell our loved ones what we want for ourselves, too.”

Fellow #hcsmca chat participant @advancecareplan points out:

“Eight in ten of Canadians agree that people should start planning for end of life when they are healthy, but 70% of Canadians have not prepared an advance care plan”

Ironically, if you know what you want, end-of-life may be the only time you can control your future.

Why then are we so reluctant to consider how we want to live our lives at the end? How do we get Canadians to start the conversation and how can we use social media to make end-of-life discussions less of a taboo?

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 21, 2011 10:02 pm

    What a fantastic discussion. Here’s the transcript of the chat (Sept 21, 2011)


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