April 16: A Day for Reflecting on Your Advance Care Planning Measures
Updated: Apr 16
National Healthcare Decisions Day is celebrated annually on April 16. It was founded in 2008 by Nathan Kottkamp, a Virginia-based health care lawyer, in order to "inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning."
The 50-state initiative is run by The Conversation Project, and encourages people to do just that, have a conversation. While 92% of people say that talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important, only 32% have actually done so. (Source: The Conversation Project National Survey 2018)
End-of-life care is no small topic and can be quite intimidating. Breaking it down into manageable parts will empower you to approach it with confidence!
Deciding what matters to you
Before sitting down with your family and health care providers, consider any particular concerns that you want to be sure to address. You may be concerned about making sure finances are in order or that a particular family member is taken care of. You may need to consider how much medical treatment you would like to try in the face of a terminal illness or where you want to spend your last days and with whom.
In recognition of Healthcare Decisions Day on, the State Bar of Wisconsin is offering a free download - through April 23 - of its health care decisions guide, "A Gift to Your Family: Planning Ahead for Future Health Needs." A Gift to Your Family offers practical insights on a range of issues surrounding health care decisions, such as power of attorney for health care, living wills, and organ and tissue donation. The guide also includes state forms to help people put their wishes in writing.
Planning the conversation
Another important step in taking control of your health care decisions is deciding who to share them with. You may desire to fill your family members in on your final wishes, as well as your health care provider, a trusted friend or your faith leader. Picking a time and a place that you are comfortable talking will encourage you to follow through on your plans.
Having the conversation- and reflecting on it
The hardest part is over! After talking through your end-of-life wishes take some time to reflect on how it went. Do you feel the conversation was received well, were your wishes understood? Are there any things you feel you would like to re-address? Maybe there's something you would like to add to your next conversation! As you start thinking and talking about future health care decisions you may have more questions- take your time in addressing them and having more conversations as you do!
Putting it in writing
Once you have defined your wishes and identified the persons you would like to help carry them out, there is one final step in your journey to Health Care Decision empowerment! Completing both a Health Care Proxy (or power of attorney for health) and an Advance Directive (also known as a living will) is imperative in making sure your wishes are clear and that they will be respected. These legal documents differ by state and it is advised that you consult with an attorney to address your specific needs.
Taking the time to work through your healthcare wishes allows you and your family the comfort of knowing that your wishes will be the guiding force for your future. For more information on National Healthcare Decisions Day or resources for starting the conversation, you can visit https://theconversationproject.org/ .
Contact us at Gage-Michaels Law Firm to learn more about the legal documents mentioned in this article or to schedule a consultation with an attorney.
Disclaimer: This blog post is made available for educational purposes only. It should not be relied upon for legal or tax advice and is not a substitute for legal research or a consultation with a qualified attorney.