End Of Life/Elder Abuse Poll Report


Seven-in-ten CARP members agree with legalized physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill, both now and last year, and regardless of whether or not Canada has an effective, comprehensive and compassionate system of palliative and end of life care.

Members agree both patient and doctor should make the decision about physician-assisted suicide, but they expect it to be, on average, almost a decade before the procedure is legal in Canada. Despite the level at which they support legalized physician-assisted suicide, one half agree there might be less interest in it if palliative and end of life care in Canada were better.

Two thirds of members have an advanced directive of some kind, and it is most likely to be entrusted to a spouse or a child, not a doctor or a lawyer. There is wide agreement that next of kin should be charged with the responsibility of seeing the advanced directive is carried out. Members are most likely to say they would ensure their advanced directives are followed by encoding them in their electronic health record (one half have these) or having a designated decision-maker among next of kin.

There is wide agreement doctors should be proactive about discussing end of life issues with their older patients and there is strong interest in learning more about what “no heroic measures” actually entails. While virtually all members think it is important for the government to have a comprehensive palliative and end of life care strategy, almost none believes governments have the political will to address these issues.

While a small percentage of members have experienced elder abuse themselves, as many as one third know someone who has been abused, which, coupled with reported rates of about 10%, could indicate a severe underreporting problem. In most cases, abuse is financial, followed by verbal elder abuse. One third have, or know someone who has been financially disadvantaged because of their age.

In most cases, someone close to the victim perpetrated the financial abuse (a demand for an early bequest or abuse of power of attorney) and this was most likely to be a family member.

Solutions to elder financial abuse include stiffer penalties for fraud, adding age as an exacerbating factor in sentencing and a national hot line to report suspicious pitches. There is agreement including age as an exacerbating sentencing factor will help limit elder abuse, and among the specific suggestions for solutions are more awareness building, a national hot line connected to the police, a national home care strategy or special investigator/prosecutor teams.

Fully one third of members watched Sidney Crosby’s return to the NHL against the New York Islanders, and virtually all of them were happy to see him playing hockey again.

While the Conservative Party commands half our members’ votes, the Liberals are firmly in second place and trending upwards, while the NDP are in third and trending downward.

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