Passages Hospice Encourages Participation in National Healthcare Decisions Day

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People are more comfortable talking about drug use and sexual activity than about end-of-life planning, a survey by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) says. Yet everyone will, at some point, have to make decisions about their own or a loved one’s end-of-life care. On National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16th, people are encouraged to sign an advanced directive that explains the type and amount of care they wish to receive at the end of their life.

People are more comfortable talking about drug use and sexual activity than about end-of-life planning, a survey by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) says. Yet everyone will, at some point, have to make decisions about their own or a loved one’s end-of-life care. On National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16th, people are encouraged to sign an advanced directive that explains the type and amount of care they wish to receive at the end of their life.

Advanced directives vary from state to state, and it is important to make sure the documents you sign are accepted by your state. Illinois accepts two major types of advanced directives: a living will and a healthcare power-of-attorney.

A living will explains the type of care desired if the illness or injury is terminal, and may include preferences about receiving CPR, medicine, or a feeding tube. A living will does not take effect until a doctor declares that the illness or injury is incurable and irreversible, and that the patient is unable to make his or her own medical decisions. A healthcare power-of-attorney places decision-making power in the hands of an agent designated by the patient, and goes into effect as soon as it is signed. The person selected can help the patient make decisions while still living and in good mental health, or make decisions for the patient if he or she is unable.

It is important to create and sign these documents well before they are needed, prior to admittance into a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Having these documents prepared can help doctors and nurses provide the exact type of care the patient wants and avoid spending time on undesired treatment. As a National Healthcare Decisions Day partner, Passages Hospice understands how important a clearly-stated advance directive can be. “To provide the best care possible, we have to know what kind of care the patient wants or doesn’t want,” Passages Hospice Administrator Seth Gillman says. Understanding the patient’s desires, Gillman says, is critical to the Passages mission of individualized care.

Although end-of-life care may be a difficult topic to consider or discuss, it is actually a loving act, the NHDD organizers say. By signing a living will, you save loved ones the pain of making difficult decisions for you. Advance-directive signing events will take place across the state on April 16th in honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day. More information can be found at http://www.nationalhealthcaredecisionsday.com.

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Charlene Sligting
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