Just like taxes, death is inevitable. None of us is getting out of this life alive!
Wow, that’s a pretty grim thought. Yet, is it? Planning for our eventual death, well before we get to that point of life is a great gift we give those we love. Believe it or not, people who do prepare state that they live life more fully and with the peace of knowing that things are in order if the “What if…” happens.
National Healthcare Decision Day was established in 2008 by Nathan Kottkamp, a health care attorney based in Virginia who wanted to make getting our wishes and documents in order a priority.He had spent years on ethics committees dealing with the harsh realities of people not having their wishes known and the legal aspects of caring for these people. His mission was to provide clear and consistent information to people on why getting our documents in order was important, and to provide simple, free, and uniform free tools to help guide the process.
Most years Tax Day is April 15. We’ve taken care of one of the inevitables in life...taxes...so why not take care of the other inevitable...death...the one true inevitable in our life. Let’s face it, we can get by without paying our taxes but death will always find us sooner or later. April 16th was chosen as the perfect day to hold National Healthcare Decision Day. It is the perfect opportunity to get your healthcare wishes known and documented. This doesn’t take long.
You will need to start with an Advance Directive. You can find free online resources at www.honoringchoicespnw.org , www.fivewishes.org, or www.prepareforyourcare.org. This is a legal form where you name the person, (your healthcare agent or proxy) who you want to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you become unable to make your own decisions. Your healthcare agent will be able to guide the healthcare team on what medical treatments you would want or not want, based on conversations you’ve had with them. Make sure you choose an alternate healthcare agent to step up for you in the event that your primary agent is unable to fulfill their commitment.
After you have chosen your healthcare agent and completed the power of attorney portion on the advance directive, you will work on documenting your healthcare decisions...what you want done. Each of the advance directives mentioned above will walk you through questions that will help you figure out what you’d want done or not want done if you are unable to make your own decisions. There are some questions to ponder to make this easier.
What does a good day look like for you?
What makes your life most meaningful?
What does being “healthy” mean for you?
What scares you the most about being sick?
What scares you the most about dying?
Have you had any experiences with disability and/or death that have impacted the way you look at dying?
Once you fill out the advance directive with your wishes, all you have to do is get the document witnessed by 2 non-family members, or non-healthcare agents, or you can have the document notarized. Some states have different rules, so be sure to check the laws in your state.
You now have someone who can legally make healthcare decisions on your behalf, who knows your wishes because you have shared them. Doesn’t that give you peace of mind!
Remember, April 16th is the day to get these decisions made, documented, and discussed with those who matter most to you. Your decisions matter!