Sure, your taxes may be done, but don’t put down the pen yet–there are still important decisions to be made. Today is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), the day when many people take the time to make plans and inform loved ones about their advanced care wishes. According to the website:
National Healthcare Decisions Day exists to inspire, educate & empower the public & providers about the importance of advance care planning. National Healthcare Decisions Day is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be.
So, what is an advance directive? According to the NHDD website, it consists of two important documents:
A “healthcare power of attorney” (or “proxy” or “agent” or “surrogate”) documents the person you select to be your voice for your healthcare decisions if you cannot speak for yourself.
A “living will” documents what kinds of medical treatments you would or would not want at the end of life.
The website offers a comprehensive list of resources where these documents can be obtained. But what do you do once you’ve filled out these documents? And how do you communicate your wishes to your family and loved ones?
A new online tool, PREPARE, has been developed by the University of California at San Francisco’s VA Medical Center to help you through this decision-making process. According to lead study author Dr. Rebecca Sudore, PREPARE is “a value-driven, easy-to-use tool to prepare people to make medical decisions that reflect their values and needs while preparing them to effectively communicate these wishes with others.”
PREPARE takes you through these five steps:
- Choose a Medical Decision Maker
- Decide What Matters Most in Life
- Choose Flexibility for Your Decision Maker
- Tell Others About Your Wishes
- Ask Doctors the Right Questions
The website is easy to use with large font, voice and video explanations, and applicable examples. At the end of the five steps, users can print an action plan which clearly shows them the steps they have completed and the decisions or conversations they have yet to do. Sudore says, “The site doesn’t merely ask people to do advance care planning, but actually shows people, through videos and a step-by-step process, how to actually have the conversation and make informed medical decisions.”
And if those conversations includes planning for residential care, CALA has some helpful resources as well. Our guide to Assisted Living referral services can help those just starting the search for senior housing. And our consumer checklist can help those touring Assisted Living communities find the best fit. Regardless of what decisions you make, we hope you take the time today to sit down with loved ones and start the conversation about future care.