Home is the place of choice to die

Going out in style   > Now here is a cheery question which you will never be asked when calling Tonic … where would you like to spend your final moments?

Surrounded by loved ones? Gazing at a beautiful view? Perhaps even watching your Premier League team score a winning goal. Well, not according to Marie Curie Cancer Care, which reveals that most men would like to die having sex. No surprise there then!

The charity surveyed those in its care for terminal illnesses to find out this answer. However, while one in five men gave this predictable answer, the survey found that just 1.9% of women would like to go in the same way. It also found 10% of men would like to shuffle off this mortal coil down the pub – not that it would do much for the morale of fellow boozers. In comparison a far larger share of women would prefer to die somewhere picturesque or doing their favourite relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music.

Among all respondents, almost two-thirds stated they would like to die at home and the majority of people (71%) would like to be surrounded by friends, family or loved ones. A tiny 3% wanted to end their lives in hospital, which ironically is the very place where most of us will spend our final hours.

Maybe the best of all worlds would be to die having sex in a pub. Though you would wish you were dead if ultimately you carried on living, as explaining your sex-and-booze exploit might be a tad difficult to explain away to both friends and relatives!

Ultimately, though, if you want to dodge the grim reaper for as long as possible, then move south, as this week the Media has been awash with the news that people in north England are more likely to die young. Live up north and you are 20% more likely to die before the age of 75 than those in the south. Just so you don’t make a fatal geographic mistake, the ‘north’ in this study includes the Midlands, while the ‘south’ includes East Anglia.

Iain Buchan, of the University of Manchester, UK, and his colleagues analysed Office for National Statistics death data from 1965 to 2015, dividing England into two regions. They found that, since the mid-1990s, the number of deaths among people between the ages of 25 and 44 have been rising. In 2015, there were nearly 50% more deaths among 35 to 44-year-olds in the northern area than in the south, and 29% more deaths among 25 to 34-year-olds.

Until we can find some use for such research, it is much better in the short term to adopt Woody Allen’s death avoidance strategy … “I’m not afraid of death – I just don’t want to be there when it happens‘.

You may also find solace in the Quality of Death Index. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the UK leads the world for care of people in the final weeks of their life. Something to celebrate in your final hours!

Footnote:  On a more serious level, please visit our sister company TonicClinic if you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, such as an inoperable brain tumour, and would like practical support.

9 thoughts on “Home is the place of choice to die

  1. Anne Marie Walters says:

    I disapprove of your style of making fun of such a sad subject. Death is a serious issue and those with terminal illness deserve our respect. Also, we can take pride in the fact that the UK comes top in the 2010 Quality of Death Index; this is prepared by Economist Intelligence Unit, which ranked 40 countries according to the quality of care offered to dying patients. The report praises the UK’s well-developed network of hospices, as well as high standards for hospital staff training and overall access to medical treatment. So if you are going to die anywhere, the best place is Britain.
    India came in at the bottom of the list, while China, Brazil and Malaysia also ranked poorly. Despite rising standards of living in those regions, the nations were criticised for the number of cultural taboos that existed around death, as well as difficulty in accessing adequate health care.

    Moderator Responds > We do take terminal illness very serious and please visit our sister company. However, we must never lose our ability to laugh and if you visit any good hospice you will find it is full of light, hope and laughter.

  2. I saw a sign in maternity ward saying … “the first hour of a life is the most critical”. Someone had scribbled underneath … “the last one isn’t too promising either”

  3. A ‘Quality of Death Index’ – wow, I guess some Government official had to come up with one to justify their job.
    As for me, I saw a sign on the motorway saying that tiredness kills. I’m staying in bed longer now as its not worth taking the risk.

  4. Pet (holidaying in Funchal) says:

    Well, if you like surveys there is one from the Office for National Statistics ( ONS ) which found more people are spending their final hours at home. The rise in home deaths appears to be most pronounced among people with cancer.
    The trend before this was a decline in deaths at home which almost halved from 1974 to 2003. Home deaths increased for the first time since 1974 among people aged 85 and over but this age group was the least likely to die at home of any adult age group over the study period.
    So now you know

  5. Nurse Sue (retired) says:

    There is no need for anyone to die in pain. Having worked in the community with many palliative care patients, I can assure non nurse Tonic readers that for our patients, pain was relieved with analgesia, and other symptoms were managed according to palliative care guidelines.
    We work with MacMillan nurses and doctors to ensure that patients are comfortable and not in distress. There WERE times when I went home and cried and others when I felt happy to have been part of my patients lives.

  6. Jack (Client 133) says:

    Death is part of living. So why not plan for it? We plan for all other aspects in our life. The patient will die with peace of mind, and knowing that they achieved their goals will take some of the burden off their family and health care professionals.

  7. anon says:

    As both a nurse and a person with a life-threatening illness, I can state that my first instinct on hearing the diagnosis was to tell my husband that I wanted to die at home with people who love me. The difficulty for patients is that, no matter how experienced or caring the nurses, they are not their family and they do not love them in the way that their families do. They may be very caring and concerned to do their best but it cannot be the same. This does not deny their abilities or skills as nurses, but highlights their limitations. It is an unavoidable fact not a criticism of who and what they are.

  8. Jilly says:

    An old palliative care patient of mine once said, “You’ll have seen people dying many times and that gives me faith in you knowing what you are doing and talking about”.
    But I only get one chance of getting this right and that scares me.

  9. Julian-N says:

    Reassurance that there is nothing set in stone and that patients can change their mind as they are dying quite often helps overcome some of the fears that patients have.

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