End of Life Decision Making, Online

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– More than half of Americans don’t have wills.

– Each year, somewhere around 100,000 hospital patients in the US over the age of 65 will experience a “Code Blue” event (18 to 20 percent of those patients will leave the hospital alive) — but only around 20% of Americans have an advance directive.

– Most Americans say they prefer to die at home, but three-quarters will die in a hospital, nursing home, or long-term care facility.

Statistics tell us there’s an overwhelming need to get a handle on end-of-life planning, but most Americans aren’t making decisions—or documenting them. These three companies are looking to change that:

AfterSteps (aftersteps.com), founded by Jessica Bloomgarden and Kfir Shay, is a cloud-based end-of-life planning platform. The company provides access to expert advice for estate planning, financial planning, funeral arrangements, and digital accounts. AfterSteps proposes that end-of-life planning can reduce the amount of stress among family members, and 100% guarantees that plans will be transferred to “designated verifiers” after account holder’s passing has been confirmed.

Everplans (everplans.com)defines itself as “the first end-to-end online resource for getting a handle on eldercare, end-of-life planning, dealing with a death, and coping with grief,” and has a twofold mission:

  1. To empower people to make confident decisions about how they want to be treated at the end of their lives
  2. To encourage more advance planning to avoid making stressful, expensive decisions under pressure and to allow people to take better care of their families

Everplans has hundreds of articles that aim to help people understand the choices they face, and provides tools and resources for finding things like state-by-state advance directives, or advice on purchasing a casket. It was founded by Adam Seifer and Abby Schneiderman in 2010.

MyDirectives (mydirectives.com) is an online system that allows users to create and update a free advance medical directive that combines the elements of a living will, a medical power of attorney, a do-not-resuscitate form, and organ and autopsy preferences. MyDirectives calls this combination of information a “Universal Advance Digital Directive™” and makes it available to the user and medical treatment providers. MyDirectives is offered free to individuals by US-based ADVault, a privately held US corporation dedicated to bring clarity and compassion to issues associated with end-of-life care.

Further Resources:

http://bestendings.com/

http://www.engagewithgrace.com/

http://www.agingwithdignity.org/

http://www.caringinfo.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3289

http://truenorthhealthcare.squarespace.com/

http://theconversationproject.org/

Code statistics from: http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/14/healthy-rate-of-survival-for-elderly-saved-by-cpr/?_r=0

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Aubrie-Ann Jones is a student in the Master’s Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. She holds an MFA in Fiction from The New School, and a BA in Anthropology from Fordham University. Aubrie is hoping to promote Narrative Medicine training in both medical schools and in the clinical environment after graduation, and to continue to explore the patient/clinician relationship, particularly in trauma care. She is a writer, traveler, advocate, teacher, and runner who is currently heading up Operations and Leadership & Development at a boutique executive search firm that builds teams for NYC-based tech startups. Twitter: @aaj1026

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