Serious Illness in Late Life: The Public’s Views and Experiences

The U.S. population is aging, and with that shift comes new challenges in meeting the needs of older adults with serious health needs. In order to better understand the public’s expectations about later life and any efforts they’ve taken to plan for if they become seriously ill, the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a large scale, nationally representative telephone survey of 2,040 adults, including 998 interviews with people with recent experience with serious illness in older age, either personally or with a family member. For this survey, those who are seriously ill are older adults who have at least one of several chronic conditions and report functional limitations due to a health or memory problem. This comprehensive survey helps provide insight into the perspectives of the public at large as well as of older adults personally facing serious illness and their family members about how they view care in the U.S., steps they’ve taken to plan for becoming seriously ill in later life, and their current experiences with care and support for those with serious illness. It is the first in a series of surveys that will measure how these attitudes and experiences change over time.

News Release

Report: Serious Illness in Late Life: The Public’s Views and Experiences

Four infographics illustrate some of the survey’s main findings:

Executive Summary

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