Characteristics of Older Adults Accessing Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD): a Descriptive Study

Authors

  • Debbie Selby Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center; University of Toronto
  • Brandon Chan University of Western Ontario
  • Amy Nolen Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5770/cgj.24.520

Keywords:

Medical Assistance in Dying, MAiD, assisted dying, older adults

Abstract

Background 

Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) is an end-of-life option for Canadians accounting for 2% of all deaths in Canada in 2019. Adults over 80 years old represent a significant proportion of these deaths, yet little is known about how they compare with their younger counterparts. 

Methods 

This study retrospectively reviewed our tertiary care institution’s MAiD database to compare MAiD recipients <65, 65–80, and >80 years of age. Extracted data included basic demographics, illness characteristics, functional status, social living arrangements/contacts, and outcomes of MAiD assessments. 

Results 

Of 267 patients assessed for MAiD, 38.2% were over 80. Compared to the younger groups, those over 80 were more likely to be female, to live alone, and to be widowed; however, they did not self-identify as ‘socially isolated’. The majority fit into the illness categories of malignancy, cardiopulmonary or neurologic diseases, but those over 80 were more likely to have other more chronic/subacute conditions leading to the MAiD request. 

Conclusions 

Older adults accessing MAiD are distinct in that they tend to be increasingly frail and without a predominant underlying diagnosis as compared with younger adults, but rather have an accumulation of losses resulting in global functional decline and subsequent loss of autonomy and independence. 

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Published

2021-12-01

How to Cite

1.
Selby D, Chan B, Nolen A. Characteristics of Older Adults Accessing Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD): a Descriptive Study. Can Geriatr J [Internet]. 2021 Dec. 1 [cited 2022 May 22];24(4):312-8. Available from: https://cgjonline.ca/index.php/cgj/article/view/520

Issue

Section

Original Research