As family caregivers, we make a lot of decisions about our care and the care of our loved ones. One of the most important decisions that we can make involves advance care planning about our future health care should we become unable to make our own wishes known to health care providers or other family members.
April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day and this is an ideal time to review personal wishes and participate in advance care planning about healthcare and financial decisions. Advance planning allows individuals to select a trusted loved one or friend to carry on their healthcare and financial decisions on their behalf should they no longer be able to communicate their wishes to healthcare professionals.
Some helpful points in preparing for National Healthcare Decisions Day include:
1. Choose a medical decision maker.
2. Make decisions about what is important to you in your life.
3. Choose the degree of flexibility for your decision makers. Do you want them to have latitude in making decisions based on various circumstances or do you want them to follow your declarations exactly?
4. Tell other loved ones about your advance planning decisions so that those closest to you know your wishes well in advance.
5. Have important conversations with your health care providers, attorneys and financial planners so that you have all the information that you need to make informed decisions.
Important documents to consider include:
1. Advance Directives.
These directives can include documents such as Medical Power of Attorney and Directive to Physicians. Discussions about the use of these and other advance directive documents should held with your attorney and medical provider.
2. Financial Directives.
Directives such as Financial Power of Attorney and other supporting documents should be reviewed by your attorney so that your own personal needs and circumstances can be taken into consideration.
For additional information about legal documents and other information, visit the American Bar Association Care Planning Toolkit.
Making advance care planning decisions and making those wishes known to family members and other loved ones is one of the best gifts that we can give those who care about us.