Successful aging does not necessarily denote absence of disease, but the maintenance of functional capacities. It, by definition, encompasses three principal components, which are: low probability of disease and disability related to disease, high cognitive and physical functional capacity, and active engagement with life (Rowe & Kahn, 1997). However, it has been evidenced that African Americans ordinarily have a greater preference for life-sustaining treatment in the event that they are faced with terminal illness as compared to the whites. Some of the factors leading to this variance include differences in the level of activity of older people. Whites are more likely to be active while old hence they are not regarded as old (Rowe & Kahn, 1997). Therefore, once a person cannot be active due to debilitating circumstances. Whites don’t see any need to prolong life. Besides, the blacks have religious, cultural and social attachments, which make them want to live longer; therefore, they mind about the end of life care more than whites do.
The knowledge base as regards to advance directives such as health care proxy and living will among the black patients is more limited than that of the whites. The blacks are believed to be not fully aware of the benefits and risks associated with life-prolonging therapy. On the issue of advance directives, and more especially on completing a living will, it has been established that most African Americans are not likely to complete one. In most cases, these African Americans lack the knowledge about a living will and as thus fail to complete one (Rowe & Kahn, 1997). They actually have a negative attitude towards the same. As a matter of fact, they have mistrusted the health care system as a result of personal experience with poor access to medical care as well as past abuses in medical care. In their view, health care professionals are less likely to follow the living will.