Helping people and families feel the peace of mind that can come from making our wishes clear in writing, concerning the kind of care we want to have in the event of a health crisis, or at the time when decisions may be called for as the end of life approaches, that’s the purpose of National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD). For 2018, NHDD will be a weeklong observance, from April 16 to 22.
These life events and eventualities are often difficult to discuss because they call for us to envision situations we spend our lives staying away from. Nevertheless, there is nothing morbid about a plan that carefully considers our preferences and desires for advance care planning before a crisis adds pressure to the conversation.
And a conversation is how it starts. National Healthcare Decision Day encourages us to have a talk with our families.
Talks Are Easier Before They’re Needed
For nearly 20 years, a non-profit organization called Aging With Dignity has offered a 12-page guide for documenting advance directives called Five Wishes. With more than 23 million copies in circulation, Five Wishes has become the most popular and easily understood format for documenting advance medical directives. It meets the legal requirements in 42 states and in addition it offers support for discussing personal, emotional, and spiritual matters.
The Conversations Can Be Community or Company-Wide
An organization called Common Practice offers kits for conducting conversations among healthcare providers, facilities and even whole communities on the important topics raised by National Healthcare Decisions Day. These kits are designed to promote National Healthcare Decisions Day and make it feasible to follow through on it in companies, communities, places of worship, and in other groups and teams that support their members.
The Two Basic Elements
The two most basic elements of “advance directives” are a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney.
A Living Will spells out the kinds of medical treatments you would or would not want performed at the end of life. These preferences are rooted deeply in the values a person has clarified during life. Certainly, a person’s family molded these values initially, but life experience and different discernments make it wise to clarify them, and not to assume that the family understands them all in the same way.
A Healthcare Power of Attorney designates the person you want to speak for you on matters of your own healthcare if you are unable to speak for yourself.
The Decisions We Make Every Day Count, Too
Although the National Healthcare Decisions Day is focused on thinking, talking about and documenting these major decisions to prepare for life events that are significant and hard to foresee, as family physicians we are reminded of another kind of healthcare decision, too.
Entrusted as we are with the care and quality of life as it goes on, we see that the little decisions people make every day play a vital role in the quality of the lives they lead. Behavior, nutrition, outlook, and exercise are increasingly the big answers to the questions of healthcare. Preventable illness is the great health frontier we face as a society.
So, our dedication is to stand with you in those everyday decisions – as well as at the big turning points of your own healthcare. We do this best by getting to know you and your family well.
Why not schedule an appointment with us at Global Family Medicine to begin? Call us at 843-815-6468.