National Healthcare Decisions Day is Thursday, April 16, a day to think about advance planning for your life and the lives of your loved ones. But wait, you say, everybody’s healthy and nobody’s facing any sort of health crisis. Great! That makes now a perfect time to think about all those relevant questions.
If you haven’t personally experienced the pressure of making a difficult decision regarding a family member’s treatment, you may know someone who has. Family discussions can be marked by heated comments and can lead to personal upset and family discord.
You can spare your family this painful experience by deciding now, when your mind is clear, the types of actions you would prefer to be taken on your behalf. One form of advance directive is a living will in which a person specifies what actions should be taken if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.
Another form of advance directive allows you to assign a “durable power of attorney” designation to your spouse, partner, child or other family member or friend. This authorizes another person to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated.
By issuing advance directives, you have the ability to guide healthcare providers and loved ones regarding what you want. Advance directives give you the ability to spell out the types of healthcare you want and do not want and to name an “agent” to speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself.
The living will is to be used only if a person has become unable to give consent or refusal. A living will can be very specific or very general. A living will that you establish now can be updated and revised at a later date, if you choose.
National Healthcare Decisions Day was begun by an attorney in Richmond, Virginia in 2008. In metro St. Louis, several healthcare organizations and elder law firms will participate this year. For information click HERE.
Hope Hospice will host informational events for National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16 at two area Walgreen’s pharmacy locations: 13992 Manchester in West County and 519 S. Truman Boulevard in Festus. Hope Hospice team members will be at each location from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., answering questions about advance directives and providing printed information and forms.
The Missouri Attorney General’s website has forms and guidance for making these important decisions. Go online to ago.mo.gov, click on “publications” and “life choices” to download these materials. In Illinois, go to dph.illinois.gov and click on “forms and publications” for materials.
As the video at the top of this post (which also appears on the National Healthcare Decisions Day website) asks, “Who will speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself?” The video also instructs, “Make sure your voice is heard.” Make those decisions now. You may not be able to make them later.
For answers to your questions about advance directives or hospice care, please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.