Sunday, April 16, is National Healthcare Decisions Day. This special day is designated to inspire, educate and empower everyone about the importance of advance care planning.
Talking about death might be uncomfortable, but it’s a conversation that needs to happen. It’s important that you take the time to have a thoughtful conversation with family members and loved ones about your end-of-life healthcare decisions, and to complete an advanced directive. By having these conversations and documenting your wishes in an advanced directive, your health care decisions will be respected by health care professionals and your personal wishes will be honored. By having a thoughtful conversation, you can provide useful guidance to loved ones, family members and health care providers so that your wishes will be honored in the event you cannot speak for yourself.
Although no one knows if they will ever lose the ability to speak for themselves, everyone can take steps to make sure that they will still receive health care that supports their goals for how they want to live their lives. Advance care planning is a highly empowering process. It helps to ensure you get the type of care you want — whether that’s the most aggressive care possible or comfort care only — in even the hardest to imagine of situations.
One of the first steps in the process is to select a health care proxy. A health care proxy (also called a health care agent or Power of Attorney for Health Care) is the person you choose to make health care decisions for you if you’re too sick to make them for yourself. Your proxy can talk with your doctors, consult your medical records, and make decisions about tests, procedures, and other treatment. Begin by asking yourself: who will speak for me and respect my health care choices if I’m unable to do so?
For more information on National Health Care Decisions Day, visit www.nhdd.org. For your Conversation Starter Kit created by the Conversation Project and the Institute of Healthcare Improvement click here here, or call 978-552-4186.