While 92% of Americans say it’s important to discuss their wishes for end-of-life care, only 32% have had such a conversation. 95% of Americans say they would be willing to talk about their wishes and 53% even say they’d be relieved to discuss it. (The Conversation Project National Survey, 2018)
National Healthcare Decisions Day has been held on April 16 for thirteen years. The day after tax day is usually a good day to discuss one’s wishes. The #COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way Americans lived in many ways this past year – and the focus on advance care planning has taken on a profound meaning for many people.
This year, there has been an increased emphasis on the importance of talking with your loved ones about your health care wishes and documenting those wishes by completing an advance directive. Given the impact of COVID across the country, completing your advance directive – or reviewing and updating your care preferences if you have an advance directive – is especially timely. Taking time to talk about the care you would or would not want with your loved ones is a worthwhile activity for all of us. Far too often we put off talking about their healthcare wishes and then we find themselves in a medical crisis. Often times, it may be too late to ensure that we get the care we want or need.
As the Founder and Chair of National Healthcare Decisions Day, Nathan Kottkamp, points out: “The need to share wishes regarding decision-makers and end-of-life issues certainly isn’t new, but the COVID-19 crisis put these considerations into bright focus. Furthermore, as the emotional and mental health effects of the crisis accumulate, we also see the benefits of advance care planning for mental health and other non-end-of-life issues.”
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s CaringInfo.org has free resources that include:
- Downloadable state-specific advance directive forms
- Information on advance care planning
- Links to digital advance directive services
- Tips for talking about your care wishes
Statewide resources, Honoring Choices North Dakota and Advance Care Planning South Dakota offers guidance in getting wishes written and how to better have those conversations with loved ones. The Conversation Project is an excellent resource, offering Conversation Guides, to get started.