The NAACP recently held a meeting with families to discuss what it means to have an “End of Life plan.” This plan includes advance healthcare directives, healthcare proxies, and end-of-life options such as hospice and palliative care. A study done at Duke Divinity showed that only 50 percent of African-Americans have talked with family members about their end-of-life care, and 20 percent have never discussed end-of-life wishes with anyone.

“This resolution acknowledges the urgent need to educate our community about the importance of families discussing their end-of-life wishes and end-of-life health care options,” said NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson. “The NAACP believes African-Americans should have access to all end-of-life care options, so each individual can decide which one is best for them, in consultation with their doctor, family, faith leader, and support system.”

“We thank the NAACP for this pledge to help educate and empower the Black community about planning,” said Brandi Alexander, National Director of Community Engagement for Compassion & Choices. “Too often African-Americans avoid these topics until it is too late. In my own family, we never discussed this issue with my dad, and he suffered needlessly, when he died because we did not know what kind of care he wanted, or didn’t want, in his final days.”

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Association stated only 8 percent of hospice users are African-American. Hospice care is a health service that provides in-home and at-facility care for people in their final few months of living. 

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