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Higher Latino COVID death rates spur interest in end-of-life options

By ThisIsReno

By Suzanne Potter
This story was originally published by Public News Service.

Hispanic groups are coming together to encourage people to have end-of-life conversations with their loved ones before illness or tragedy strikes.

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation and the National Hispanic Council on Aging are teaming up with the nonprofit Compassion & Choices to get people talking about end-of-life planning, hospice, life support, medical power of attorney, and medical aid-in-dying.

Dr. Yanira Cruz is president and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging.

“The reality is that Latinos oftentimes do not take care of advanced directives for example,” said Cruz, “so they get to a point where decisions have to be made and there are no directives written or signed by them. “

According to the census, Hispanics make up almost 30% of Nevadans, which is about 918,000 people. And Hispanics make up 13% of people age 55 and older in the state.

Antonio Tijerino is president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. He said Latinos celebrate those who have passed on Dia de los Muertos, but many are uncomfortable talking about death beforehand.

And yet, he said, it’s a must, especially since so many in the community have succumbed to COVID, and Hispanics are less likely than other groups to have health insurance.

“We’re dealing with these end-of-life issues at a higher scale than others,” said Tijerino. “Yet we’re the least likely to have access to resources and information to deal with them.”

A report by the American Hospice Association found that Latinos are less likely than white families to use hospice, but may be more likely to need it.

A free End-of-Life Decision Guide Toolkit is available in English and Spanish on the Compassion & Choices website.

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