The good doctors of Canada would like you to be prepared for death. Enter the RESPECT calculator, which predicts deaths within five years based on declines in daily activities such as bathing and walking—which are typically stronger predictors of mortality than diagnoses of disease.
The calculator, called the Risk Evaluation for Support: Predictions for Elder-Life in the Community (RESPECT), is the brainchild of 13 researchers from across Canada. These people are planners. “The calculator allows families and their loved ones to plan,” says coauthor Amy Hsu, investigator at the Bruyère Research Institute. “For example, it can help an adult child plan when to take a leave of absence from work to be with a parent or decide when to take the last family vacation together.”
The researchers also hope the calculator will help people receive home care and palliative care earlier, which often begins “too close to death and fails to have a positive impact on the quality of life in those last months,” they write.
The calculator is based on data from 491,000 older people’s daily habits over a six-year period. It debuted this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, following a pilot program in Ontario.