Few today have been the primary caregiver to a dying loved one, even though dying at home is on the rise in the United States. Instead, many still die in medical facilities cared for by nursing staff, often alone or with family who fear the dying process and visit minimally. As a result, most people outside of medicine know very little about a dying body.
Up to 90 percent of patients with serious, life-limiting illnesses, such as cancer, COPD, and chronic kidney disease, report never discussing their end-of-life wishes with their physicians. Research shows that patients want these discussions but most never initiate the talk—nor do their doctors, whose training focuses on saving lives, not helping people die well.