Table 1.

Older Adults’ Preferences Regarding Life Expectancy Discussions in Primary Care

Preferred Timing to Discuss Life ExpectancyExample
Never“I can’t see where [discussing life expectancy] is helpful … no one wants to know when it’s coming so the less they know about when it’s coming the better off I think they are.”
Only near end of life“[Discussing life expectancy] is not necessary unless all signs are pointing to absolutely you are not going to live past 6 months.”
When life expectancy is longer than 1 year
    2 to 3 years“I would want to know within 2 years so that I could get things straightened out … but anything beyond that I would not want to know.”
    5 years“I think 5 years would give me the time to do the things I may want to do if I have the ability to do them.”
    As early as possible“As far in advance as possible … [even 10 years].”
Preferred format of life expectancy information
    Qualitative description“If you think … that I might not last another 5 years, just tell me that I’m not doing as well as you had hoped, but … hold off giving a certain number.”
    Quantitative information“I think the more quantification you can provide the better.”