Mercer Island End of Life Preparedness

End of Life Preparedness —
An Emerging Public Health Priority

Public health strategies, coupled with medical advances, have resulted in a 30-year increase in life expectancy since the dawn of the twentieth century. People are living longer and their expectations about their health and the quality of their lives are increasing. These expectations extend to wanting to ensure that the last months and days of life are lived as fully as possible, as pain-free as possible, and with dignity and choice.

Traditionally, much of the nation’s public health network’s efforts have focused on ensuring a healthy start in life for infants and that children thrive and are protected from injury and infectious diseases. In more recent decades, additional strides have been made in ensuring that our nation’s adults practice healthy behaviors and take advantage of preventive measures that reduce their risk of chronic disease, injury, and infectious diseases such as influenza and pneumonia.

Now, in addition to focusing on the dawn of life and continued good health throughout life, CDC is extending its focus to life’s close. As more and more baby boomers reach their older years, unprecedented opportunities exist through the nation’s public health network to help ensure that Americans have the knowledge and resources needed to make informed choices and decisions about how their final months and days are spent. Planning for the end of life is increasingly being viewed as a public health issue given its potential to prevent unnecessary suffering and to support an individual’s decisions and preferences related to the end of life. For more information see the