April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day, but this Year Things are Different

Categories: Community Engagement and Education.

COVID-19 crisis puts thoughts of health care decisions in different light, says NHPCO.

National Healthcare Decisions Day has been held on April 16 for twelve years. The day after tax day is usually a good day to discuss one’s wishes. Yet, April 16, 2020 is a very different time than any of those previous years.  The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has altered the way Americans are living – and the focus on advance care planning has taken on a profound meaning for many people.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization wants to acknowledge NHDD by stressing the importance of talking with your loved ones about your health care wishes and documenting those wishes by completing an advance directive. In fact, given the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) across the country, completing your advance directive – or reviewing and updating your care preferences if you have an advance directive – could be timely.

“Given the uncertainty that we find ourselves coping with during the COVID-19 public health crisis, taking time to talk about the care you would or would not want with your loved ones is a worthwhile activity for all of us to undertake,” said NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach. “Far too many Americans put off talking about their health care wishes and then they find themselves in a medical crisis and it may be too late to ensure that you get the care you want.”

Advance care planning includes completing an advance directive (also known as a living will) and appointing a healthcare power of attorney (someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself). Then, most importantly, sharing your decisions with your family and loved ones.

As the Founder and Chair of National Healthcare Decisions Day, Nathan Kottkamp, points out: “The need to share wishes regarding decision-makers and end-of-life issues certainly isn’t new, but the COVID-19 crisis puts these considerations into bright focus.  Furthermore, as the emotional and mental health effects of the crisis accumulate, we also see the benefits of advance care planning for mental health and other non-end-of-life issues.”

NHPCO’s CaringInfo.org has free resources that include:

NHPCO has also created resources about shared decision-making during the COVID-19 crisis. Visit the NHPCO website to download the free COVID-19 Shared Decision-Making Tool and the COVID-19 Ethical Framework Decision Making Guide.

“It’s also important to remember that having these thoughtful discussions with your family and documenting your wishes can be a gift to your loved ones should you become critically ill and unable to speak for yourself. Your priorities will be clear to them,” Banach added.


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