“It Always Seems Too Early, Until It’s Too Late.” The theme for National Healthcare Decisions Day 2016 (April 16) encapsulates the issue that many Americans face – delaying advance care planning discussions with their loved ones until a crisis happens. NHDD is a national day of observance that was established to inspire, educate, and empower the public to have vital advance care planning discussions with loved ones and plan ahead.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, along with other national, state, and community organizations participate in the annual initiative to provide education and resources on healthcare decision making and how to start these vital conversations.
“There is no better time than now to discuss your healthcare preference with your loved ones,” says said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. “National Healthcare Decisions Day reminds you to think about, document and share decisions about the care you would want if faced with a medical crisis.”
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).
NHPCO’s CaringInfo has free, state-specific advance directive forms and information on advance care planning that can be downloaded from its website CaringInfo.org. Each state’s advance directive is legally reviewed on an annual basis and meets each state’s statutory requirements.
“Regardless of your age or medical status, documenting your healthcare wishes is important,” says Schumacher. “Doing so will lift the burden off your loved ones should you become critically ill or injured and unable to speak for yourself.”
Hospice and palliative care providers around the country are important sources of information for advance care planning and many of these organizations are actively working to promote awareness and provide advance directives on April 16.
NHPCO has created the video below offering some tips and things to think about regarding planning for care at the end of life.