Agape Care Encourages Action on Healthcare Decisions Day
No one expects a sudden, serious illness or injury to occur before there’s time to consider and share our preferences for care. Yet the past year is evidence that we’re not always in control of when those moments happen.
Agape Care Group is approaching this year’s National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16 with purpose and passion, as we know from experience that creating an advance care directive helps everyone involved gain courage, confidence, and peace of mind if something unexpected does occur.
Who is advance care planning for?
The short answer is that advance care planning is for all adults, at any stage of life or state of health. In 2006, National Healthcare Decision Day (NHDD) was created to educate and encourage the public to take the necessary steps to share health care preferences with family and providers.
The key message of National Healthcare Decision Day: Having the conversation about advance care planning isn’t just for older people or patients diagnosed with a serious illness.
An advance care directive documents the types of care you do and don’t want, and it provides the people you love with the guidance to make decisions for you if you’re unable to do so yourself. It ensures that you and your loved ones receive care that’s consistent with your values, needs, and preferences. It can also relieve much of the guilt and moral uncertainty a loved one might feel about making a difficult decision regarding your health down the road.
The documents to prepare include an advance care directive (also known as a living will), and a form appointing a healthcare power of attorney who can make decisions for you if you’re unable to share them yourself. The process begins with important conversations with your loved ones to make sure your wishes are understood.
Advance care planning benefits include:
- Increased compliance with patients’ directives
- Increased quality of life for patient and families
- Decrease in hospitalization
- Decrease in unnecessary medical expenses
How do I get started?
As we do in all of our client interactions, Agape Care walks with you, and we recommend starting the conversation by talking through the Five Wishes document with a family member or loved one.
Once you’ve thought through the options, the process is fast and easy to complete. The Five Wishes document is available online in multiple languages for a minimal fee. Though many organizations, attorneys, or health providers offer a similar form, we at Agape Care support using the Five Wishes document as it speaks to all of a person’s needs: medical, personal, emotional, and spiritual.
The document, developed with the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law & Aging, meets the legal requirements of 44 states but is used widely in all 50 and many countries. U.S. law requires medical care providers to honor patient wishes as expressed in an advance care directive.
The South Carolina Bar organization answers common questions.
Introducing the conversation
The best time to discuss health care preferences is now, before you or a family member face a health crisis. Any significant life event such as graduation, marriage, divorce, or birth of a child is a good time to start. A friend, church member, or neighbor going through a health issue is also a natural segue into the conversation.
- Approach the conversation by sharing your wishes before asking someone else to share theirs.
- After a movie or news story, ask, “What would you want us to do if you were in this situation?”
- In a discussion about values ask, “What makes your life worth living, and how do you think about quality of life?”
- Ask, “Have you filled out forms recently documenting your health care preferences?”
- Approach as a family project and openly discuss the pros and cons of certain decisions and who would be willing to serve as a power of attorney.
Still have questions? Refer to Five Wishes’ FAQs, or reach out to Agape Care for a consultation. We’re here as a resource as you begin advance care planning and throughout any health challenge you or your family may face.
Contact us or email firstname.lastname@example.org today for more information.