In the UK and the Westernised countries, most people die aged 80+ from disabling, chronic and degenerative diseases, having spent several years in poor health. There is thus continuity between long-term care (LTC) and end of life care (EOLC) in old age, but this continuity is poorly understood within policy and almost nothing is known about what determines the modality and intensity of LTC provision in old age towards the end of life. Drawing on multinomial logistic regression analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), this paper evaluates how health and socio-demographic factors affect the relative probability of receiving care through one of five long-term care arrangements (LTCAs) from the time of need at age =50 to death; and assesses the consequences this has for the English LTC and EOLC policy and planning. The study reveals that hospices provide end-of-life LTC for cancer diagnoses and adults aged 50-64, while care homes provide open-ended and end-of-life LTC for non-cancer diagnoses, dementia, severe disability, and adults aged 80+. Further, the informal, formal, mixed and care home LTCAs reflect increasing levels of disability and ill-health, and decreasing levels of family support, with differences concerning education and gender. Finally, dementia and Parkinson's disease are the single strongest determinants of high formal LTC provision, and overall high care needs determine high formal LTC provision. Within the English context, the consequences of this are that: 1) Continued reliance on informal family care is not sustainable; 2) To provide free formal LTC to old adults with high care needs is appropriate; and 3) Hospices do not cater for the prevalent form of dying in old age while care homes do, being the de facto hospices for severely disabled, very old (80+) adults with dementia. Yet this is not represented in English EOLC policy and research.
The literature on death expectation in ill old age is mostly medical. A social science standpoint (especially quantitative) is practically absent. However, whether families, social and healthcare services can anticipate, support and prepare for the deaths of ill old adults is not reducible to the biomedical paradigm. Yet it is critical for end of life care (EOLC) policy. This study's aim is to investigate relatives' perception of death as unexpected in relation to both disease-related and care-related factors. Using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing End-of-life Interviews Wave 6 this paper draws on probit regression analysis of unexpected (vs. expected) death in ill adults aged 50+. Findings are interpreted considering the containment of sudden death and the trajectories of dying in ill old age. The latter display overall visible decline preceding death. On this basis, EOLC literature and policy evidence death's uncertain timing as much as death's certain emergence in the horizon of expectation. Therefore, unexpected death in ill old age was interpreted as a failure to acknowledge dying, rather than the impossibility of discerning its approach. Very old age, dementia diagnoses and supported care environments were found to shape unexpected death.