A medical crisis, a severe accident, or an incapacitating illness can happen at any time, at any age, to any person. Do you know what kind of medical treatment you want if you can no longer make your own decisions or tell others what you want? Does your family know? Does your doctor and healthcare team know?

We are encouraged to use the week of Monday, April 16th as the starting point to make plans about what healthcare decisions we want for our future medical care and treatment if we can no longer speak for ourselves. Besides knowing what choices we want made, who do we want to speak for us and carry out our wishes? We need to ask that person if he/she would be willing and able to share our decisions with others. And is the person willing to make healthcare choices for us if we can no longer do so? It is helpful to also write down what we want done or not done in case of a medical crisis, which we can do by developing an Advance Care Plan.  By having a plan, our family and loved ones will not have to make hard decisions about our medical care by guessing what they think we would want.

Each of us will experience the end of life. And how it happens will be a personal experience for each of us. We can develop our Healthcare Advance Directive documents in the hopes that we never need them. But we should have them, just in case. And if you already have your Advance Directives, take April 16, the National Healthcare Decision Day to review your documents and make any changes you might want. Check with your state regarding its requirements for advance directives. In addition, here are some additional resources and places to download forms.

Dialysis Patient Citizens Education Center

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

The official US government site for Medicare

National Institute of Health

National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD)