The Vital Importance of National Healthcare Decisions Day: A Review and Reflection

April 5, 2024
4 min
Dr. Michael Madison, CEO

April 16th marks an essential day in the realm of healthcare: National Healthcare Decisions Day. This day serves as a reminder of the critical need for individuals to plan and communicate their healthcare preferences, ensuring that their wishes are known and respected, especially during times of incapacity. In light of this significant occasion, let's delve into the recent conversation between Lori La Bey, Founder of Alzheimer's Speaks, and Dr. Michael Madison, Co-Founder of Thanacare, on the importance of advanced care planning and review insightful guidance on the "10 Things to Consider for Advanced Care Planning."

Advanced care planning is not solely about end-of-life decisions; it encompasses a spectrum of healthcare choices that individuals should make while they are still capable. It involves appointing a healthcare proxy, documenting preferences for medical treatments, discussing values and goals with loved ones, and outlining preferences for end-of-life care. By engaging in these conversations and formalizing preferences, individuals can maintain autonomy over their healthcare even if they become unable to express their wishes in the future. The outcome of these Goals of Care conversations establishes ownership by the individual and alignment among family, friends, and loved ones. The blog post by Alzheimer's Speaks provides valuable insights into advanced care planning, offering ten key considerations to guide individuals through this process. One of the fundamental points emphasized is the importance of initiating conversations about healthcare preferences early on, ensuring that loved ones are aware of one's wishes and can act accordingly. Procrastination in discussing these matters can lead to critical decisions being made during moments of crisis, potentially resulting in treatments that do not align with the individual's values and desires. These decisions can not only crater family dynamics, but also well-earned and protected finances.

Another significant aspect is the necessity of selecting a trusted healthcare proxy or durable power of attorney for healthcare. This individual will be entrusted with making medical decisions on behalf of the individual if they become incapacitated. Choosing someone who understands the individual's values and preferences is paramount to ensuring that decisions made align with their wishes. Sometimes people do not have someone who can be called upon in this situation, these individuals are referred to as Solo Agers and require extra support and connections. Additionally, the National Healthcare Decision Day stresses the importance of documenting healthcare preferences through advance directives, such as living wills and medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST) forms. These documents provide clear instructions regarding the type of care an individual wishes to receive or decline in various medical situations, offering guidance to healthcare providers and loved ones when making decisions on their behalf. Furthermore, a periodical review and update of advance care planning documents to reflect any changes in preferences or circumstances should be considered. Healthcare preferences may evolve over time due to changes in health status, personal beliefs, or life circumstances. Regularly revisiting these documents ensures that they accurately reflect the individual's current wishes and intentions.

Ultimately, National Healthcare Decision Day serves as a vital reminder of the importance of advanced care planning in ensuring that individuals' healthcare preferences are known and respected. Engaging in conversations about healthcare preferences, selecting a trusted healthcare proxy, documenting preferences through advance directives, and regularly reviewing and updating these documents are essential steps in the advanced care planning process. By taking proactive steps to plan for future healthcare decisions, individuals can maintain control over their medical care and alleviate the burden on loved ones during times of crisis. Let us seize the opportunity presented by National Healthcare Decision Day to initiate these crucial conversations and empower ourselves and our loved ones to make informed healthcare decisions. Or, if you have been responsible, review and see if your current advance directives require an update. Through thoughtful reflection on the guidance provided by Thanacare and a commitment to proactive advanced care planning, we can ensure that our healthcare preferences are honored, even in the face of uncertainty.

If you are interested in starting a conversation about what matters most when it comes to your care wishes, schedule with Thanacare today.

To learn more about the work and resources Azheimer's Speaks provides, visit their site