Many of us know about the need for end of life planning but few of us actually do it. Health care advocates are hoping to get more Garden State residents to put end of life plans in place.


The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute is hoping to get local mayors to encourage their communities to take action on things like living wills, senior accommodations and funeral arrangements.

"Mayors know their communities and mayors work with their senior centers and they go out and they meet and greet and they have the bully pulpit," said Institute Vice President Linda Schwimmer. "They're able to speak about important issues and so through that ability to speak to their community, to know their community, to engage their community, we think that they're natural leaders to work with social workers, physicians, other trusted providers as well as local nursing homes, hospitals, libraries, senior centers Et cetera."

The institute is working with the Mayors Wellness Campaign, New Jersey State League of Municipalities and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services to launch a pilot program this summer that will engage mayors of three communities in fostering that dialogue.

The Institute's press release says an April 2014 "Health Matters" poll conducted by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Insitute and the Monmouth University Polling Institute shows that more than half (54%) of the poll's respondents indicate that they have no written document outlining their wishes for end-of-life care and treatment and almost two out of every four (38%) have never had a discussion about end-of-life care.

In an effort called "The Conversation of a Lifetime," Mayor's will be hosting workshops, engaging the medical community, hosting movie festivals or "community reads" that have end-of-life themes to generate discussion.

"If we want to have our wishes respected. If we want to get the type of care that we want in our last days. If we want to be in the setting that we want. It's the best gift that we can give to our family members and other loved ones who are going to be responsible for making those decisions for us," Schwimmer said.

For more information about the pilot program go to the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute web site at