Friday, April 14, 2017

Rallying to Encourage and Empower Us All to Make Our Healthcare Decisions Now Because... It Always Seems Too Early, Until It’s Too Late

In honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), April 16, we share this blog as part of national efforts to raise awareness of this issue.  

College education.  Career path.  Relationships.  Starting a family.  Buying or selling a house. Vacations. Retirement. From the age that we’re old enough to understand, most of us are taught and accept that these are the markers in life that we plan for.  However, there’s one key marker that’s all-too-often missing from this list: advance care planning.  Like planning for these other life events, planning for the time (or times) that we are unable to express our healthcare wishes is of the utmost importance. It is something that should be well thought-out, documented and revisited at different points in life to reflect any change in our desires or family situation or the person we wish to advocate for us. 

Unfortunately, it is a planning point that that majority of us have missed.  In fact, only about 25% of adults have an advance care plan.  As a consequence patients’ families suffer the added burden of having to guess when a health crisis happens. That’s why National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) was founded 10 years ago and why this nationwide advance care planning awareness initiative is as important as ever. So this year, I’ve joined my fellow bloggers throughout the country to spread the word about the importance of advance care planning with this special NHDD edition blog.

NHDD, which happens every April 16—and is a week-long event this year—is a collaborative effort of thousands of national, state, and community organizations as well as dedicated individual advocates committed to ensuring that adult Americans–like you and me—have the information and opportunity to communicate and document their healthcare decisions.

If you haven’t had the talk already, check out the awesome three and a half minute “Imagine” video on the NHDD homepage: It’s proof that it takes only a few minutes to start a conversation with your loved ones about advance care planning—a conversation that affects people for a lifetime.  

After the goosebumps settle down from watching the video, here are some specific things you can do for NHDD:
  • Lead by example.  Schedule time with your loved ones (on or before the week of April 16) to “Have the Talk” and complete your own advance directive. There are many tools, including free forms, you can use to walk you through the process and make your wishes known; access them through the NHDD Public Resources page or visit the NHPCO website for information. 
  • Encourage your loved ones and friends to learn more about advance directives and to complete their advance directives. You can forward this link:
  • TAKE THE DARE!  I DARE YOU to have the talk about advance care planning and dare others as well!  When you do, share it on whatever outlet you prefer and use #healthtalkdare (and #NHDD) wherever possible.  If you don’t accept my dare, you should make a donation to NHDD  And, while my dare is about inspiring action, you get bonus points if you accept the dare AND make a donation!  (Note: you don’t have to share the specific contents of your talk—that’s your business—just share the fact that you did it.) 
  • Share your advance directive with your healthcare providers and make sure it is on file in the event it is needed. 
Already had the conversation with your loved ones, but want to do more?  Here a few suggestions to rally support for NHDD and encourage even more action:
  • Like the NHDD Facebook fan page and share it with your Facebook friends.
  •  On Twitter? Follow @NHDD and share the information with your followers, i.e. ‘Just 5 days to #NHDD, when will you #havethetalk? @NHDD can help’ OR Share the Dare!  #healthtalkdare. 
  • Send an email to your friends, staff, colleagues, lodge/social club members, and/or house of worship, telling them that you are participating in NHDD and encouraging them to do the same.  
Please use and share the resources available through the NHDD website and encourage and empower us all to make our healthcare decisions now because … It Always Seems Too Early, Until It’s Too Late! 

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