National Healthcare Decision Day Focuses on Advance Care Planning

National Healthcare Decisions Day, on April 16, and Our Lady of the Lake want to educate the public about the importance of advance care planning.

Many put off advance care planning thinking they’re too young or healthy to be worried, but life can change at a moment’s notice. Planning ahead helps loved ones know your wishes in the event you had a sudden or terminal illness and could no longer make your own healthcare decisions.

Advance care planning can help focus on these “what ifs,” discern what care is best, and then document wishes in a healthcare power of attorney and living will.

When should you consider reviewing and reevaluating your advanced directives? Follow the Five D rule:

-Death of family or friend

-Divorce

-Receive a new Diagnosis

-Experience a significant Decline in health

-Reach a new Decade

What considerations should be made?

-Select a healthcare power of attorney. A Power of Attorney (POA) is the person(s) you select to make decisions for you if you are no longer able to make them due to an injury or illness. You can also select an alternate POA to provide support to your primary POA. Designating an alternate is not mandatory but can prove helpful.

-Create a living will. A living will is a legal document that provides instructions about the type of treatment you want and do not want in the future when you are no longer able to make decisions or speak for yourself. Reflect on your values and beliefs and determine what “living well” means to you. Make sure you consider any cultural, religious, spiritual, or personal beliefs that might influence your decisions.

-Take time to reflect and inform. After you’ve reflected on your wishes and ensured that’s the decision you want, be sure to have a conversation with the person(s) you’ve deemed as your healthcare power of attorney. Talk with them about your decision and make sure they understand your wishes in the event they need to make your medical decisions for you and be sure to answer any questions if they need clarification.

-Put it in writing. Once you’ve made your decision, be sure to write down your medical wishes, sign them and also have two witnesses sign the document.

-Reevaluate - at any time. Any life change is a great time to ensure your healthcare decisions and the person tasked with making these decisions is still what you want in the event it’s necessary. There’s no limit on your decision changes.

Need additional help?

OLOL has an advance care planning facilitator that can help you think through your goals and values, and assist you in selecting your healthcare power of attorney and completing your advance directive. Schedule an appointment with an advance care planning facilitator by calling (833) 526-6050 or emailing AdvanceCarePlanning@fmolhs.org.