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Groups Urge Latino Families to Discuss End-of-Life Options


Wednesday, June 29, 2022   

Hispanic groups are coming together to encourage people in Arizona and elsewhere to begin end-of-life conversations with their loved ones before illness or tragedy strikes.

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation and the National Hispanic Council on Aging are teaming up with the nonprofit Compassion & Choices to get people talking about end-of-life planning, hospice, life support, medical power of attorney, and medical aid-in-dying.

"The reality is that Latinos oftentimes do not take care of advanced directives, for example," said Dr. Yanira Cruz, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging. "So, they get to a point where decisions have to be made and there are no directives written."

Arizona is home to more than 2.4 million Latinos, almost 32% of the population, with more than 436,000 age 65 or older.

Cruz said it's important for families to approach loved ones about a directive before there is a serious illness or another crisis.

"In the long run, it actually is helpful to the family to be able to cope with the process of death and dying and end of life in a much more serene and peaceful way," she added.

Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, pointed out that Latinos celebrate those who have passed on Dia de los Muertos, but many are uncomfortable talking about death beforehand.

But he said it's a must, because so many in the community have succumbed to COVID, and Hispanics are less likely to have health insurance.

"We're dealing with these end-of-life issues at a higher scale than others, yet we're the least likely to have access to resources and information to deal with them," he said.

A report by the American Hospice Association found Latinos are less likely than white families to use hospice services, but may be more likely to need them.

A free End-of-Life Decision Guide Toolkit is available in English and Spanish on the Compassion & Choices website.

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