Characteristics of Older Adults Accessing Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD): a Descriptive Study
Keywords:Medical Assistance in Dying, MAiD, assisted dying, older adults
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.
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.
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.
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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LicenseCopyright (c) 2021 Debbie Selby, Brandon Chan, Amy Nolen
Authors contributing to the Candian Geriatrics Journal retain copyright of their work, with exclusive publication rights granted to the Canadian Geriatrics Society upon article acceptance. Read the journal's full copyright and open access policy.