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Advocates to NY Latinos: Create advance director for end-of-life plans

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, president and chief executive of the National Hispanic Council on Aging, said letting your family and friends know your wishes allows them to cope with the process of dying in a more peaceful and serene way.

“Not feeling guilty about the decisions we make,” she said, “because we are essentially doing what our loved ones have asked us to do.”

Cruz recommended that all adults fill out an advance directive, a legal document stating which treatments you want or don’t want, and who can make decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself. She noted that Latinos are less likely to have advance directives than their white peers.

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New York is home to about 3.6 million Latinos – the fourth-largest Latino population in the country.

Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, said Latinos celebrate people 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.

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

A free End-of-Life Decision Guide Toolkit is available in English and Spanish on the Compassion & Choices website. It walks readers through the steps of considering their personal beliefs and values, any quality-of-life concerns, types of life-sustaining treatments they may or may not want, and what their support networks are.



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