NEW YORK — If you have not yet discussed how you should be treated and cared for during the final hours of your life, you could be only one among the few, says a study led by an Indian American researcher. (See India-West’s in-depth article on palliative care in the Indian American community here: http://bit.ly/1HrK7th.)

More people are today engaging in advance care planning that includes discussing and providing written end-of-life care instructions and appointing a durable power-of-attorney for health care, the findings showed.

And when individuals share their end-of-life preferences with loved ones, they're more likely to have their wishes honored, said lead author Nidhi Khosla, assistant professor at the University of Missouri.

"Advance care planning increases the likelihood that the care one receives at the end of her life is congruent with what she wants," Khosla explained.

"By engaging in advance care planning, individuals make their preferences known in the event that they are unable to make a decision for themselves. This can reduce the stress caregivers and family members face regarding treatment decisions for a loved one who is severely ill or injured," Khosla, an alumna of the Institute of Rural Management, Anand, Gujarat, noted.

The researchers investigated the trends in advance care planning from 2002 to 2010 using data from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative U.S. sample of individuals who are 50 years or older.

They found that engaging in advance care planning was not strongly linked to socio-economic status or level of education.

However, they found that individuals with higher household incomes were more likely to have legally designated someone to make health decisions on their behalf in the event they could not make the decisions for themselves.

The study is forthcoming in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

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