National Healthcare Decisions Day!

You might be thinking, “What is National Healthcare Decisions Day?” This day was created to inspire, educate, and empower people and health care providers about the importance of advance care planning.  This year, National Healthcare Decisions Day is Saturday, April 16, 2016.

Advanced care planning is a process where people learn about the types of decisions that might need to be made before death and letting others know about them. You can also put those decisions into an advance directive, which is a legal document that goes into effect if you are unable to care or speak for yourself. An advance directive is a great way to let others know what type of medical care you want and what your values and desires are with your end-of-life care.

Having an advance care plan is also a good way to put less stress on family members if you are near the end of your life and are not able to speak for yourself. If you have an advance directive, your family will not have to be responsible with deciding your end-of-life care and what treatments to give you.

There are different types of advance directives: a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. A living will is a written document that tells the doctors what emergency treatments you wish to have. A durable power of attorney for health care is a written document like a living will, but you choose someone as a healthcare proxy (someone who will make your medical decisions for you when you might not be able to do so yourself). It is also recommended that you speak with your healthcare provider before making your final decisions about your advance care planning.    

Thinking about planning for possible end-of-life situations can feel overwhelming and even a little unsettling, but it doesn’t need to be. By sitting down with your doctor and/or family and making decisions in advance, you can rest easier knowing that your caretakers will be well-prepared and informed. With the decisions made prior to any life-threatening situation that may occur, whoever is responsible for your end-of-life care will be able to communicate your wishes if you are unable. Medical professionals honor and respect your decisions made in advance care planning documents.

In addition to advance care planning, you can also ensure that you maintain a healthy lifestyle by participating in self-management classes provided by the Missouri Arthritis and Osteoporosis (MAOP) program! These classes offer help with managing and preventing the effects of arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic diseases. For more information or to find classes near you, take a look at our classes. Like advance care planning, MAOP’s classes offer helpful ways to care for the long-term health of your body!

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