Life Matters Media
Start the most difficult conversation American isn’t having- the conversation about our end of life preferences

Facts and Figures


  • The fastest growing segment of the population over 60 is also over 80. U.S. Census
  • Between 2000 and 2010, the 45 to 64 year old population grew 31.5% to 81.5 million, and now makes up 26.4% of the total U.S. population. U.S. Census
  • Each year more than 3.5 million Baby Boomers turn 55. U.S. Census
  • One in five people are expected to be 65 or older by 2035. U.N. Population Division
  • In the year 2050, the U.S. population age 65 and older will grow close to 148% from current levels. AARP.
  • As the population expands and lives longer, incidence of serious illness rises. World Health Organization
  • More than 1.6 million Americans will have a new cancer diagnosis in 2012. American Cancer Society
  • More than 5.4 million people are living with Alzheimer’s Disease in the U.S. (and the diagnosis comes with 14.9 million caregivers). Alzheimer’s Association
  • On a smaller scale, one million people are hospitalized each year with congestive heart failure; 547,000 Americans are suffering from end-stage renal disease; and as many as 30,000 people in the U.S. have ALS. AARP


  • Half of 44-55 year olds have both one living parent and a child under 21, potentially doubling their responsibilities. AARP
  • More than 65 million people, or 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care. AARP
  • 36% of family caregivers are caring for a parent, and seven out of ten caregivers are caring for loved ones over 50. AARP.
  • The value of services family caregivers provide for free when caring for older adults is estimated to be $375 billion a year. (Almost twice as much as is actually spent on home care and nursing home services combined.) National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare.
  • Between 59 and 75 percent of caregivers for the sick and elderly are women. American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry.
  • The typical family caregiver is a 49 year old woman caring for her widowed 69 year old mother who does not live with her. She is married and employed. AARP.
  • Approximately 72 percent of caregiving population is white. Six in ten were employed at some point in last 12 months while caring for their relative or friend. AARP.
  • 50% of caregivers seek an additional job and 33% seek a job to cover caregiving costs. AARP.
  • Those who care for a loved one who lives nearby spend an average of $4,570 annually on caregiving costs; long-distance caregivers spend $8,728. AARP.
  • The average duration of a caregiver’s role is 4.6 years. AARP.

Medical providers

  • In a study published January, 2010 in the journal Cancer, 4,188 physicians were asked how they would talk to a hypothetical cancer patient with four to six months to live.
    • A majority of respondents (65%) would discuss prognosis, but only a minority said they would discuss do-not-resuscitate status (44%), hospice (26%) or preferred site of death (21%) at that time.
  • Current guidelines, from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, say the conversations should be initiated whenever a patient has been given less than a year to live, if not at diagnosis.
  • In a 2009 study led by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 603 patients with advanced cancer (with about six months to live) were asked whether their doctors had discussed their wishes for end of life care.
    • The majority (69%) said those conversations had not taken place.
    • In the last week of life, those patients who had talked with their doctors ended up with medical bills on average 36% lower than those patients who did not have end of life conversations.
  • In a 2012 survey commissioned by the California HealthCare Foundation, 8 and 10 of those 1,669 surveyed said if seriously ill, they would want to speak with their doctor about end of life care.
    • Fewer than 1 in 10 report having had a conversation, including just 13% of those age 65 and older.