Older Australians say this is their one wish…. so why can’t we give it to them? 33

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The vast majority of Australians have a very important wish that many would argue should be honoured wherever possible, yet research shows that, in most cases, it’s not happening.

Research from the Grattan Institute shows that 70 per cent of Australians would prefer to die at home, yet only 14 per cent actually do. Why is that?

Professor Hal Swerissen, from the Grattan Institute, told the ABC that home deaths have declined and hospital and residential care deaths have increased, despite surveys showing that most people would prefer the option to spent their last days at home with family.

He said the main reason this wish was not granted was Australians’ reluctance to discuss death, both with their family members and also with health professionals.

“People don’t have the conversation,” Professor Swerissen told the ABC. “People don’t like talking about mortality.”

New research shows that being at home may result in a more peaceful death and less intense grief for loved ones.

An English study discussed on ABC found terminally ill cancer patients who died at home experienced similar pain levels but more peace in their last week of life compared to dying in hospital. It also found grief was less intense for the families left behind.

The study showed that patients dying at home did not experience greater pain than those in hospitals where access to pain-reliving drugs might be easier.

Professor Swerissen says the issue is compounded by a lack of adequate community-based support.

“We were very clear when we did our research what is need to make it happen — [there has to be] much bigger emphasis on providing community-based support,” he said.

A Grattan Institute report last year showed that with an investment of $237 million, Australia could double the amount of people who are supported to die at home.


Do you think resources should be made available to help more Australians have their dying wish? Share your thoughts and experiences. 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Knowing where you are going when you die gives you the most peace – Christ Jesus promises us eternal life with Him – we have but to ask and believe in faith – God loves us and sent his son Jesus to die for us – so that we might life for him now and forever.

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  2. I want to die at home – and by my own hand if necessary. I wouldn’t do that while my husband lives – but if goes before me…..

  3. I would also prefer to die at home with my family if at all possible, however I’m not sure the family would like or cope with that idea as they didn’t even like me to talk about my new will that I made last year let alone discuss my actual death, I know it is more difficult for my family than it is for me, and I have to respect that too.

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    • They don’t but go ahead and arrange a living will with your desires.
      Appoint a POA or empowering POA but care who you choose.
      Research euthanasia.
      I have.
      I have been an RN for 45 years but don’t expect my adult kids to wipe my bum and spoon feed me.
      It would be down to one of my daughter’s as my son has said he won’t so it isn’t fair to them.

  4. Nah, not at home, sounds depressing, I am more the kind of guy that should drop dead and cause the most inconvenience for a lot of people…..you get remembered better that way.

    Reminds me of the time I was playing golf in a four-ball which included my wife’s uncle, he had a heart attack on the course about half way round, we were the second group out so nearly the whole field was behind us. The delay was relayed back through the field, many were annoyed but many just thought that my wife’s uncle was just being the larrikin he was right to the end, sadly no, he didn’t make it but it’s an event I will remember forever.

  5. Everyone should have that choice, I have been with two close relatives at the end, both were so full of morphine that death for them was peaceful. Where they died didn’t really make any difference.

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  6. My sister passed away from lung cancer in a hospice at Ipswich. She had the most loving care there and we were not restricted to visiting times. They provided her daughter with a bed in her room for the last few days. I wish they had such a facility here at Redcliffe. I would not like to die at home except suddenly in my sleep. I would like to access euthanasia when the time comes.

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  7. Our society has for so long hidden death – something not to be spoken of. It is a part of life, and as such should be talked about, planned for, and accepted

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