Only about one-quarter of all Americans have taken steps to ensure their future healthcare choices are known and protected should they become incapacitated. National Healthcare Decisions Day is Saturday, April 16th, a day to start a discussion with family members as to what they should know in case of an illness.
Omaha CHI Health Ethics Services spokesperson Leslie Kuhnel says the umbrella term for this is advance directives. Common directives include a living will that states what kind of treatments you want or don’t want in a certain circumstance. The other is to name a durable power of attorney for health care so you have a person to speak on your behalf in case you are unable to do so.
Kuhnel says, “I’ve seen a lot of sad situations mostly because when families are faced with decisions and haven’t had conversations about what the person’s values are. In the middle of that emotional time it can be so hard to decide what direction to go with somebody. Would this be something a loved one would want or not.”
Kuhnel says many people think they need to visit an attorney to create an advance directive but that isn’t the case. She say they are very simple and cost absolutely nothing. She says forms are available online at chihealth.com.