Did you know that National Health Care Decision Day (NHDD) has expanded to become a whole week to s spread knowledge and awareness regarding this important topic? It starts on April 16th which is the day used to get your resources together. NHDD exists to educate the public and providers about the importance of talking about their wishes for end of life.
Before we can gather our resources, however we must understand some of the terms when making Health Care Decisions such as Advanced Directives and Living Wills.
An Advanced Directive is a living will that allows an individual to choose and document his/her wishes concerning medical treatment. It can be completed by a healthy individual or someone who may have been diagnosed with a serious health issue. A Living Will is a legal document that informs family, caretakers, friends and health care professionals of decisions made regarding end of life care. It is not an extension of a personal will and only addresses health matters. Advanced Directives (Health Care Proxy, Do Not Resuscitate, POST, or MOLST forms) are legally valid throughout the United States. It does not require a lawyer; however, the witnesses must meet the requirements in your state. They do not expire and remain in effect until changed by the individual. Witnesses should not be related by blood or marriage or entitled to any portion of the person’s estate.
- April 16th, seek out and utilize our nurses in our Wellness Office as a resource of the different choices available to you in order to complete the appropriate forms.
- April 17th, the theme for the day is “Start with yourself”. ON this day, think about your own healthcare decisions based upon your individual preferences and beliefs.
- It is about Family, Friends, and Loved Ones on April 18th. This is the day to discuss your wishes with others and learn their wishes too. This discussion may not be easy because it can evoke feelings of sadness to imagine we might need to make life decisions for our loved ones. However, decisions are always easier when you know the person’s wishes and have talked about it beforehand instead of under duress.
- Spread the word is on April 19th. Use this day to tell others that you’ve engaged in advance care planning and encourage them to do the same. Make sure you inform your physicians of your wishes/ preferences so they can be your advocate and abide by your wishes too.
- Taking place on April 20th is Facilities Focus; which is a day for healthcare providers to promote advanced care planning. Information can be found at www.nhdd.org or The Will to Love Project which provides state-specific forms for designating an agent and stating healthcare wishes. Our Nurses in our Wellness Offices can provide advanced care planning forms.
- Professional Preparedness Day is on April 21st. This day is dedicated to ensuring all professionals such as physicians and other healthcare professionals, clergy, attorneys, and legal professionals understand Advanced Care Planning. It is the hope that they will promote and aide in the discussion of advanced care planning.
- Lastly, April 22nd is a day of Reflection and Readiness. We will all reflect on what worked well, file/share your advance care plans so they will be available if/when needed.
There are many difficult decisions and conversations to be had when looking at your healthcare decisions. It is well worth all of our time and effort to make sure these decisions are made in a calm environment and not under stress. It is important that we advocate for not only our wishes but the wishes of our loved ones. You can follow this discussion on Twitter @NHDD and @Convoproject