The tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001 and the devastation and loss of life due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, have made Americans reflect on the meaning of life and death. While it is true that life can be taken away in an instant, most of us will face illness or an advanced age that will lead to the end of our lives. As Americans, death is not something that we often discuss in our homes. We fear growing old and dying, and often avoid the subject altogether.

Take just a moment to reflect on these questions.

  • Do you ever think or talk about death with your loved ones? 
  • How is death dealt with in your family?
  • How would you want to be cared for at the end of your life?

These are difficult things to think about. However, the fact that the population of the world is becoming older means that more people will need end of life care.

As Americans, we are flooded with information and statistics regarding the "graying of our population." The 2010 U.S. Census indicated that there were 40 million people 65 years of age or older and 5.5 million people over the age of 85. These numbers will continue to increase significantly over the next 50 years (see for more statistics). As we age as a nation, our need for medical services will also significantly increase. In turn, the need for health care providers to serve this population will rise dramatically.

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