Two-thirds of Aussies delay end of life planning

About nine in ten Australians believe some end-of-life planning is important according to new research, but many have also flagged challenges that are preventing them from taking action.

The ‘Dying to Know’ study, commissioned by not-for-profit The Groundswell Project Australia, was conducted online between the 6-8 June, 2022, and comprised a nationally representative sample of 1,027 Australians aged 18 years and older.

It found that while nine in ten (87%) Australians believed it was important to do some end-of-life planning, only one in three (35%) had actually taken action.

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The research also showed almost two in three (64%) Australians felt there were challenges and barriers to them undertaking end-of-life planning – including death and dying being too emotional to think about (14%), not knowing where to start (17%), or where to get help or information (16%) and not understanding their choices when it comes to end-of-life (15%).

Meanwhile, almost half said end-of-life planning would lessen the mental burden of organising financial and legal affairs on their loved ones; while two in five believed that their loved ones would be comforted by knowing for certain what they want to have happen after they die. Almost a third (30%) believed it would help their loved ones grieve and heal more readily.

Cherelle Martin, Dying to Know campaign manager at The Groundswell Project Australia, said the results reinforced the importance of reshaping the way Australia approaches death, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Death is often over-medicalised and institutionalised. Our superstitions, fears, discomfort, and lack of knowledge about dying affect our approach to end-of-life. This new data emphasises that Australians think conversations – and action – around end-of-life is important,” Martin said.

“This new research highlights the many ways in which people can feel ill equipped to act or start a conversation. Sadly, this can mean that end-of-life experiences are not aligned with an individual’s values, preferences or wishes.

“At a time where our mortality is a part of our collective consciousness like never before, it is crucial to ensure that we normalise conversations around death and dying, so Australians can ‘get dead set’.”

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