On Thursday October 19, 2017, Alliance VITA addressed the issue of Advance Directives. “ANTICIPATE, before dying” to provide information and raise public awareness with opinion polls and street surveys. 

Polling

The IFOP poll showed that 86% of French citizens had not yet signed their advance directives, despite the February 2, 2016 law for this subject, and the informational campaign carried out by public authorities in coordination with the National Palliative and End-of-Life Care Center.

42% declare being unaware that these measures exist.

For those who are aware of advance directives, the other reasons mentioned for not signing include:

  • 16% don’t want to think about the end of their life;
  • 13% don’t think they should decide ahead for their end-of-life conditions;
  • 8% are in favor of this, but find the files too complicated.

Alliance VITA notes that 21%, who are aware but haven’t signed their advance directive forms, attest they haven’t found a suitable response among the prerogatives proposed.

Is it preferable to wait and entrust the decision to caregivers and loved ones?

The appreciation differences for those over 65

The public who is the most concerned is the over 65 year-old age group with the following results:

  • 34% are unaware of advance directives vs. 42% for all ages
  • 21% are reluctant to decide in advance vs. 13% for all ages
  • 12% consider it “complicated” vs. 8% for all ages

The reality is that it be complicated to predict one’s choice ahead of time.

The street survey poll included the question:  “What would you like to do before you die?”

In the past, Alliance Vita received national acclaim its’ survey: “Let’s Speak of Death” with 1000 quotes broadcast via the social networks, and local exhibitions with an explanatory guide. Now more than 1,000 Alliance VITA volunteers in 100’s of cities are polling pedestrians: “What would you like to do before you die?”

Alliance VITA’s website has published a video which filmed the public’s reactions to the pilot teams. Often, this question leads to fundamental discussions about life’s meaning. Their first conclusions:

  • the priority given to one’s relationships with families and friends
  • the importance of accomplishments (travels, descendants) and giving meaning to everyday life
  • the basic conviction of expressing love, by tenderness or spirituality.

The initial results are gathered together for each town at their local centers.

Asking such a question give individuals an opportunity to reflect and share the meaning of one’s life. As Hannah Arendt affirmed “Mortality is the sign that we are human.”  Indeed, since the subject of death is practically taboo in our society, having “brotherly” exchanges between fellow mortals may paradoxically lead to becoming more humane.

Guides on Advance Directives distributed during the informational campaign

Stands staffed by Alliance VITA volunteers in almost 100 cities are offering a new VITA Guide to each person surveyed.

This simple, pedagogical tool is suitable for all individuals whether they are healthy or sick. It is a guide to promote relationships between caregivers and patients.

Alliance VITA will continue to distribute the Guides. The downloadable version is available through its site which is focused on listening and accompanying those at the end-of-life:  www.sosfindevie.org.