National Healthcare Decisions Day is observed every year on April 16th to raise awareness about the importance of making healthcare decisions in advance. It is a day to encourage people to think about their future healthcare needs and communicate their preferences to their loved ones and healthcare providers.
The day was first established in 2008 by Nathan Kottkamp, an attorney in Virginia, who recognized the need for a national day to promote the importance of advance care planning. Since then, National Healthcare Decisions Day has been celebrated annually with the goal of educating people about the importance of making their healthcare wishes known.
Advance care planning involves making decisions about the type of medical care you would like to receive if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. This includes decisions about life-sustaining treatments, such as resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, and artificial nutrition and hydration. By making these decisions in advance and communicating them to your loved ones and healthcare providers, you can ensure that your wishes are respected if you are ever unable to speak for yourself.
Unfortunately, many people do not engage in advance care planning, leading to unnecessary suffering and stress for patients and their families. Studies have shown that fewer than 30% of adults in the United States have an advance directive, a legal document outlining a person’s healthcare wishes.
National Healthcare Decisions Day aims to change this by providing resources and information to help people make informed decisions about their healthcare. This includes information about advance directives, tools for starting conversations with loved ones, and resources for healthcare providers.
So, how can you participate in National Healthcare Decisions Day? Here are a few things you can do:
- Start the conversation: Talk to your loved ones about your healthcare wishes and encourage them to do the same.
- Create an advance directive: Consult with an attorney or use free online resources to create a legal document that outlines your healthcare preferences. We love Five Wishes.
- Share your wishes with your healthcare providers: Make sure your doctors and nurses know your healthcare preferences so they can provide the care you want.
- Spread the word: Share information about National Healthcare Decisions Day on social media or with your friends and family.
National Healthcare Decisions Day is an important reminder to think about our future healthcare needs and communicate our wishes to our loved ones and healthcare providers. By engaging in advance care planning, we can ensure that our healthcare preferences are respected and avoid unnecessary suffering and stress for ourselves and our families. Let’s take the time to have these important conversations and make our healthcare wishes known.