Dying to talk: have a chat about end-of-life

Flinders University palliative care experts urge families to talk about death

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At the dinner table or in the car, take the opportunity to have a talk about death.

At the dinner table or in the car, take the opportunity to have a talk about death.


Death and dying: the ultimate dinner time debate


THE one thing we can be sure of in life is that one day we will die.

But so keen are we to avoid thinking of our ultimate demise that we come up all sorts of euphemisms.

We pass over, kick the bucket, go belly up, curl up our toes, croak it, go to push up daisies, fall off the perch, bite the dust, check out...... and why not? After all that "D" word sounds so very final.

However, researchers at a new centre at Flinders University want us to change our thinking and bring death out into the open. They want us to have open and frank conversations with our family and friends about the inevitable - where would be like to be, who would we like with us and what do we want to happen after we're gone.

"One Australian dies every three minutes and 17 seconds and the death rate is expected to double in the next 25 years as the ageing population increases," said Professor Kim Devery of the Flinders University College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

"Few of us like to think too much about the end of our lives - however death is a part of life.

"Just think about how much talking and planning is done before a birth but we don't do the same when it comes to planning for our death."

Professor Devery said there were a number of different aspects of growing older and death to talk about, such as advanced care planning - who will make decisions for us if we can't make them for ourselves and what life prolonging treatments do we want - but also how do we want to live our final years, do we have a bucket list, who will care for our pets when we no longer can.

The Flinders Research Centre for Palliative Care and Dying has brought together a number of experts in end of life care to investigate the "future" of death.

They want to make death a more accessible and palatable topic for everyone from discussing advance care directive legislation to end of life hospice, home or residential care, and how to die with dignity.

At the dinner table, in the car or perhaps after you have been to the funeral of a friend were all possible times to have a conversation about death, said Professor Devery.

"It's an ongoing conversation you need to have with those people you trust. It's really important."

For information on advanced care planning visit: www.advancecareplanning.org.au