Background It is well established that populations worldwide are ageing. It is also well known that women will continue to live longer than men. Indeed, the social gerontology literature describes ‘deep old age’ as being predominantly female. However, little research exists about the gendered implications of palliative care.
Aim To provide a feminist critique of attitudes towards and perceptions about Advance Care Planning (ACP) amongst community dwelling adults.
Methods Forty-seven women and men (55–93) resident in Auckland, New Zealand and members of community organisations participated in seven focus groups. Vignettes about individuals with chronic illnesses were used to encourage discussion about participants’ views on Advance Care Planning (ACP). A feminist gerontology framework informed the thematic analysis.
Results Study participants stated there is an expectation women will provide end of life care for their partners, thus facilitating the partner‘s option to remain at home. Some women voiced concern about how a lack of financial resources, family and social networks affected their current wellbeing and shaped their fears for the future. Other attitudes expressed highlighted awareness of the physical, emotional and financial burden women experience as a result of providing end of life care.
Conclusion This study, one of the first to adopt and explicitly feminist approach to ACP, suggests attitudes towards ACP are highly gendered, while women are often caregivers for others at the end of life, their own choices are more likely to be circumscribed by living alone at the end of life or being resident in aged residential care.
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