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Report: Latino Families Should Prioritize End-Of-Life Conversations


Monday, September 26, 2022   

End-of-life planning, hospice, medical aid in dying - all are difficult decisions, and a new report says Latinos and other underserved communities face persistent inequities in making these plans.

Compassion & Choices and the National Hispanic Council on Aging have found a combination of lack of financial resources, discrimination and fewer providers create the gridlock.

Patricia González-Portillo, senior national Latino media director with Compassion & Choices, said Latinos often distrust the medical system - but end-of-life conversations are crucial before illness or tragedy strikes.

"We have a history of not having the information that's culturally sensitive or appropriate," said González-Portillo. "That's why at Compassion & Choices, we have these materials available in a culturally appropriate manner, in their language - in Spanish and English."

Last year, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed New Mexico's Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act, becoming the 10th state and 11th U.S. jurisdiction to allow medical aid in dying.

Statewide, the population that identifies as Hispanic or Latino is approaching 50%.

In the long run, González-Portillo said, end-of-life directives allow families to cope with the process of death and dying in a more serene and peaceful way - because they've made necessary preparations.

"When we are expecting a baby, we prepare for the baby," said González-Portillo. "You know, our death is something that's also going to happen to all of us, and we need to prepare for that."

The report is being released in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated through October 15. It recommends increased training for medical providers on end-of-life care planning.

An End-of-Life Decision Guide Toolkit is also posted, in English and Spanish, on the Compassion & Choices website.

Disclosure: Compassion & Choices contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Health Issues, Senior Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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