National Health Care Decisions Day
National Health Care Decisions Day has been held on April 16th for the last twelve years. The Covid-19 pandemic has altered the way we live and the focus on advance care planning has taken on a profound meaning for many people.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization acknowledges Health Care Decisions Day by stressing the importance of having conversations with your loved ones about their wishes and completing their advance directives.
What is Advance Care Planning?
- Advance care planning is having discussions about future healthcare decisions and creating a document that outlines health care agents and treatment preferences.
- An advance directive is a legal document that becomes effective when you are no longer able to make your own health care decisions.
- A health care agent is a person you appoint to make health care decisions for you when you are no longer able to do this on your own.
How to Get Started
Think about what your wishes are. What are some kinds of treatments you do or don’t want in a medical emergency? Personal values are key, think about what is important to you, what brings you joy and how you want medical care to be delivered. Think about what types of treatment would you want: tube feedings, nursing home placement, life-sustaining measures? Once you have given thought to these questions, the next important step is to have conversations with your family and friends about your wishes.
Advance care planning is having discussions about future healthcare decisions.
Make it Official
Once you have given thought to the care you desire and have had conversations with family and friends, you are ready to complete an advance care planning document that outlines your preferences and identifies your health care agents. This service is offered free of charge at most healthcare systems. You can ask for this service at your doctor’s office.
What to Do After You Set Up Your Advance Directive
After you have completed your document, you need to keep a copy for yourself, provide a copy to your doctor’s office, family members and health care agents. Also remember to update your document throughout your life. A key rule to keep in place is to update your advance directives with the 5 D’s: Decade, Diagnosis, Divorce, Death of a loved one, and Decline. This will ensure you receive the best care at all stages of your life.
This blog post was shared by Baylay L., a Student Intern at Unity Hospice.
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