Longview, WA, April 11, 2014 – April 16 is National Healthcare Decision Day (NHDD) to encourage adults to decide what their healthcare choices would be if they are unable to speak for themselves. There are free or low cost forms where adults can document their decisions, including Five Wishes, DoYourOwnWill.com, Legalzoom and Nolo, to name a few.
A living will is a written legal document that outlines the type of treatment and life sustaining measures a person would want if they are not able to communicate their wishes. This can include an advance directive which is written instructions regarding medical care preferences that may include resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, nutritional and hydration assistance, dialysis and organ donation. Durable medical power of attorney appoints a person to make decisions for you in case you are not able to make these decisions for yourself. Both may be necessary as an advance directive does not cover every scenario. You can find more information regarding this on line at www.agingwithdignity.org/nhdd.
Advance directives do not need to be filed officially. As soon as they are signed and witnessed they go into effect, you will need to check your state laws to determine if notarization is required. Once completed, your family members and doctor will need copies or information on how to access them. Let your family know what is important to you. For additional information, visit https://www.nhdd.org/public-resources/. It is never too early to let your wishes be known.
NHDD was founded by Nathan Kottkamp, while employed as a healthcare attorney with the McGuireWoods law firm. He founded NHDD in 2008 after seeing firsthand how uncertainty about patients’ end-of-life wishes led to tragic results. He chose the day after Tax Day in honor of Benjamin Franklin’s famous adage: “Nothing in life is certain but death and taxes.”
By 2030 18% of the US population will be 65 or older compared to 13% today. While 90% of the population has heard of a living will only 29% of the population has completed one. The best time to have the discussion regarding your healthcare decisions is before a healthcare crisis is in effect. Everybody 18 years of age and older should think of what they would want in case of an emergency.