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AARP Bulletin Poll "Getting Ready to Go" Executive Summary

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This nationwide poll, commissioned by the AARP Bulletin, found that an overwhelming majority of adults age 35 and older are aware of the steps they and their parents can take to prepare for the end of life, such as preparing a health care proxy, establishing a living will, having a valid “Do Not Resuscitate” order, authorizing the donation of one’s organs or tissue, pre-planning one’s funeral or burial, and creating a trust or last will and testament. The results show, however, that less than half have completed the paperwork.

Poll findings include:

  • Older respondents take action more frequently than younger respondents. Those 60 years of age and older report completing five of the six advance directives and pre-plans twice as often as those ages 35-49.
  • Healthy respondents were more likely to take action than less healthy respondents. 52% of the respondents who are in “excellent” health reported completing an authorization form for organ/tissue donations compared with 27% of the respondents in “fair” or “poor” health. And, 52% of respondents in excellent health reported having created a last will and testament compared with 41% of respondents in “fair” or “poor” health.
  • Respondents’ parents took action more frequently than the respondents themselves. Respondents who reported having a living parent(s) were asked if their parent had completed the same advance directives and pre-plans. Results indicate parents are more likely than their children to have completed the paperwork for five of the six advance directives or pre-plans.


This telephone poll of a nationally representative sample of 1,013 adults age 35 years and older was conducted for the AARP Bulletin by International Communications Research using its national omnibus survey service between November 20th and 28th, 2007. Further information about the poll results may be obtained by contacting the report’s author, Dawn V. Nelson, at 202-434-6325. (9 pages)

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