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NAACP Advocates for and Supports End of Life Planning

WHEREAS, the NAACP recognizes that African American disparities extend to the end-of life process and planning; and


WHEREAS, a Duke Divinity School survey found that only 50% of African Americans have talked with family members about their end-of-life care and 20% have never discussed end-of-life wishes with anyone; and


WHEREAS, it is imperative to empower our community with information to better make informed decisions when planning for the end of life and have candid conversations with friends, family, faith leaders and medical providers about end-of-life care before a time of crisis; and


WHEREAS, just 13% of African Americans have a living will in place compared with 32% of White Americans and a will is a written document - signed and witnessed - that indicates how your belongings and assets will be distributed at the time of your death, while a trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries; and


WHEREAS, we must all research, plan and understand financial planning, as African Americans are less likely to purchase long-term care insurance, term life insurance, whole-life insurance, disability insurance and homeowners insurance, or to complete estate planning to distribute assets how we want and to avoid probate court, or invest in retirement security to live comfortably; and


WHEREAS, being equipped with treatment-option information and illness-specific questions for medical professionals during appointments can empower our community to advocate for ourselves; and


WHEREAS, in 2011 the National Center for Health Statistics reported that only 35% of African Americans have completed advance directives and identified a power of attorney compared with 70% of their White peers; and


WHEREAS, advance healthcare directives are state-specific free legal documents to choose medical treatment options in case one is unable to make decisions because of illness or infirmity and to appoint a healthcare proxy to speak on one's behalf; and


WHEREAS, palliative care is a compassionate interdisciplinary approach (doctors, nurses, faith leaders, other medical professionals) which provides specialized medical and nursing care for people with chronic and terminal illnesses. The ultimate goal is improving the quality of life for the patient and their support network by focusing on providing pain relief, and physical and mental stress support at all stages of illness; and


WHEREAS, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association, only 8% of hospice users are African American, and hospice care is a health service that provides comfort care to patients, in-home or at a facility, in their final phase of illness or within six months of death. There is an emphasis on patient support and the entire spectrum of improved quality of life; and


WHEREAS, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that there are end--of-life options that are also underutilized by African American patients, including palliative sedation, pursuing life-sustaining treatment, refusing/discontinuing life-sustaining treatment, medical aid in dying, voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED) and life-extending options; and


WHEREAS, having an understanding of the entire spectrum of care options as well as after-life directives such as will and trusts is critical in order to make informed healthcare decisions, from the refusal of treatment to aggressive treatment options; and


WHEREAS, in 2013, the NAACP passed a resolution recognizing the importance of planning and putting into writing one's intentions regarding one's property and encouraging all individuals to develop estate planning including wills or trusts that protect the integrity of their property; and


WHEREAS, African Americans are less likely to pre-plan for the eventual costs and details about services and according to the Federal Trade Commission the costs associated with end of life services, such as funeral, memorial, burial, and cremation, are high and ever rising; and


WHEREAS, in order to address final costs concerns, it is imperative for African Americans to research and obtain: life insurance, payable-on-death account, veterans benefits, burial insurance, and funeral trust plans; and


WHEREAS, in 2016 the NAACP passed a resolution on the importance of being an organ donor and acknowledges National Organ Donation Day.


THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP advocates that families educate themselves on all aspects of end-of-life planning including advance healthcare directives, healthcare proxies, organ donation, wills, trusts, powers of attorney and end-of-life options such as hospice, palliative care and achieving a physician-assisted peaceful transition.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms both the 2016 organ donation and 2013 estate planning resolutions, encourages financial planning to ensure comfort during final days, supports completing advanced directives, recognizes the value of hospice and palliative care.

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