The 16th of this month is National Healthcare Decision Day. It’s actually a week – filled with ideas and resources as part of The Conversation Project’s initiative to “provide clear, concise, and consistent information on healthcare decision-making to both the public and providers/facilities.”
Their mission is 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.”
If you are injured or ill and unable to make your own health care decisions, someone else must step in to speak for you.
Having an Advance Care Plan in place is one of the greatest gifts we can give our loved ones.
What that means is…
1) naming someone to make health care decisions for you,
2) knowing what you want and don’t want regarding your care and
3) talking with the person you named (and loved ones) about your wishes.
What happens if you haven’t done this??
Let’s use ME as an example.
What if tomorrow I’m involved in an accident and put on life support. (Morbid, I know but stay with me.)
Our daughters are seven. Twin girls named Gigi and Ryan.
If I haven’t named a health care power of attorney (someone to make medical decisions for me if I am unable), I would hope my spouse will be authorized to make decisions for me. We now reside in California where they look to the “closest available relative.” (Note, that in some cases a spouse may not be whom you’d want to make these decisions– just sayin’.)
So, Jason now is charged with making decisions on my behalf. Remember, our daughters are SEVEN. They’ll see me in this state and likely not want me to “go.” I can only imagine he’ll feel immense guilt and desperation trying to decide what to do – keep me “plugged in” so our daughters still have a mom or, let me go. He’d try to assume what I would want and hope beyond hope he’s doing the “right” thing.
Now picture the same scenario and I’ve named Jason as my health care power of attorney AND I’ve also told him what I want and don’t want if I’m in an incapacitated state and can’t make decisions for myself.
Granted, he’ll still have to make a hard decision.
BUT, he can have the peace and relief knowing he’s following my wishes. No doubt.
Side note: In the first scenario, what if he wanted to “unplug” me, but a family member contested it? Sadly, we’ve seen that scenario played out on television.
That’s a mess. A dirty, nasty, painful mess.
I want to give the gift of peace to Jason. To Gigi and Ryan. To my family and friends.
You can’t put a price on this gift.
I encourage you this month to think about whom you’d like to speak on your behalf. Who can ‘handle’ your wishes? I encourage you to think about what you would want and not want. Your wishes.
To help you, I’ve attached the Missing Pieces Plan Advance Health Care Directive Worksheet as a guide – to help get you thinking.
Then, join the movement the NEXT week on April 16th!
You got this.
I am with you,