LiveSmart: Document Your Healthcare Decisions For Peace of Mind

[This piece was written by Pat Spreitzer, RN, Provider Relations Specialist with The Community Hospice.]

Decisions. Decisions. We all make hundreds of decisions every day. What dish should I order at the restaurant? Should I hit the gym after work today? What will I wear to the party this weekend?

Sadly, however, when it comes to making arguably the most important decisions in life – about our own health and future – many Americans are falling short.

Many of us simply do not take the time to think about health decisions or plan for the future, until we have to, often amidst a crisis situation. What types of medical care would we want? What wouldn’t we want? Studies show if faced with a sudden, unexpected healthcare crisis or a serious, life-limiting illness, only about 25 percent of us have actually taken the time to document our choices.

April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD). This nationwide initiative focuses on ensuring all adults with decision-making capacity in the United States have the information and the opportunity to communicate and document their healthcare decisions. This year marks the 10th anniversary of NHDD.

The Community Hospice and St. Peter’s Health Partners encourage everyone to have these difficult but crucial conversations with their loved ones, as well as their health providers.

For example, do you have an Advance Directive? If so, have you reviewed and updated it within the past year? If you do not have one, consider beginning the planning process.

  • Examine your values, beliefs and goals while planning.
  • Consider what type of care you would want or not want.
  • Consider identifying a spokesperson who can speak on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
  • Complete the documentation to ensure your wishes will be followed.

Don’t procrastinate when it comes to advance planning and making those important healthcare decisions. It always seems too early…until it’s too late.

For more information on Advance Care Planning, please visit www.sphcs.org/AdvanceCarePlanning

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