All Americans Encouraged to Learn about Advance Care Planning on National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16

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April 16 is Healthcare Decisions Day, and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization stresses the importance of people talking frankly about the care they would or would not want if ever faced with a serious medical condition or life-limiting illness.

National Healthcare Decisions Day is April 16

NHDD on April 16 is a day to think about your healthcare wishes.

National Healthcare Decisions Day is a day... to think about and document the healthcare choices they would make when faced with a medical crisis.

NHPCO along with other national, state, and community organizations are raising awareness of the importance of advance healthcare decision-making. This includes completing an advance directive (also known as a living will) and appointing a healthcare power of attorney (someone to make healthcare decisions on a person's behalf if they cannot do so for themselves). However, equally important are the conversations with family and loved ones about healthcare preferences and choices.

“National Healthcare Decisions Day is an important day of awareness and education, focused on encouraging everyone, including those who are healthy and in the prime of their life, to think about and document the healthcare choices they would make when faced with a medical crisis,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president/CEO.

“Hospice and palliative care providers are important sources of information for advance care planning and many of our member organizations are actively working to promote awareness and provide advance directives on April 16,” Schumacher added.

Advance directives allow an individual of any age or health status to document their end-of-life wishes in the event that a terminally illness or critically injury prevents them from talking or communicating themselves. It is recommended that every American take steps to ensure that their loved ones and healthcare providers know what healthcare wishes are important in the event of a medical crisis or illness.

NHPCO’s Caring Connections offers free information on advance care planning, including state-specific advance directive forms at People also can call the HelpLine at 1-800-658-8898.

NHPCO is a founding supporter of National Healthcare Decisions Day and works with hospices across the country to educate communities about advance care planning. For additional information about National Healthcare Decision Day and efforts throughout the country, visit

NHPCO and its affiliate, the Hospice Action Network, are hosting a policy symposium, "Conversations Before the Crisis: the Intersection of Family, Faith and Policy in Advance Care Planning," that will continue public discussion about advance care planning after April 16. For information on attending this event on April 23, 2013 in Washington, DC, please visit the HAN website.

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