April 16, 2023 is National Healthcare Decisions Day (“NHDD”). NHDD was founded in 2008, by a health care lawyer, to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. NHDD is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be.
An Advance Health Care Directive is a legal document that describes the medical care you do or do not want if you unable to make your own healthcare decisions; and, you are persistently unconscious, or have suffered significant and irreversible brain damage, and there is no reasonable expectation or hope of regaining awareness and higher mental functions no matter what is done.
Thinking about your own medical preferences in a situation like the one described above, and sharing those preferences with loved ones, is important. Your loved ones can’t act on your wishes unless they know what they are. Sharing your healthcare wishes before a medical emergency is a gift to the people who care about you. Without this conversation, there can be confusion, conflict, and guilt in a situation that’s already very emotional and stressful.
To begin this healthcare conversation, you might consider talking about your values, experiences, and what’s important to you. Discuss how you would want the end of your life to look and the type of care you prefer. There are many resources to help with these discussions, including The Conversation Project and Five Wishes. Five Wishes also has a talking points list that is helpful. Advance care planning is a process of planning and conversation that needs to be considered throughout your lifetime as your medical needs and technology change.
As part of the advance directive discussion, you will also want to have a health care power of attorney prepared – a legal document that appoints someone you trust to make health care decisions for you if you cannot.
When we make decisions ahead of time and put those wishes in writing, we help bring peace of mind to our families. We allow caregivers to advocate for us, when we are unable to do so for ourselves, knowing that their following our wishes.
Call a dedicated estate planning attorney to create peace by preparing an advance healthcare directive and healthcare power of attorney. Contact our St. Louis office at 314-303-3218 if you’d like assistance.
** The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements. This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.
Written April 11, 2023