Most people delay making healthcare decisions until a problem presents itself, but there are important choices to be made before any serious issues present themselves. National Healthcare Decision Day (NHDD) in April is designed to promote awareness about advance care planning and the importance of making your healthcare wishes known through living wills and advance directives for medical decisions.
“An ‘advance health care directive’ lets an individual’s physician, family and friends know his or her health care preferences, including the types of treatment wanted or not wanted at the end of life, the desire for surgical procedures, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and organ donation,” says Suganthini Umakanthan, MD, Geriatric Medicine Specialist, Medical Director at Alaris Health at Essex, and attending physician for Newark Beth Israel Medical Center’s Center for Geriatric Health Care.
At Alaris Member Health Centers, leading providers of short-term post hospital rehabilitation, long term and specialty care in NJ, all patients are encouraged to complete an advance health directive.
“Advance directives aren’t just for older adults. Unexpected end-of-life situations can happen at any age, so it’s important for all adults to have an advance directives and to have copies kept with both family members and a physician,” says Dr. Umakanthan.
Make Your Wishes Known!
Use this checklist for opening the conversation about advance directives:
Your Goals of Care
- How do you want to live the rest of your life? What activities are important to you? What do you hope to accomplish?
- Name Someone to Make Decisions When You Cannot
Who do you trust to express your wishes when you no longer are able?
- Talk to Your Family, Friends, or Health Care Staff
Tell them what your goals of care are.
Tell them what kind of care and treatment you do/do not want.
Tell them who you want to make decisions for you if you no longer can.
- Write it Down!
Put your wishes down on paper in one or more of the following documents: Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Five Wishes.
Work with your doctor to fill out Do Not Hospitalize (DNH) or Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders if you so desire.
- Give Out Copies! Share with Your Proxy, Facility Staff, Family and Friends
The documents are worthless if no one can find them!
- Review and Update Your Documents
Life circumstances change – make sure your planning documents still reflect your wishes and goals.
For more information about NBIMC’s Center for Geriatric Health Care, please call (973) 926-8491. For more information about any Alaris Member Health Centers, please call (855) 7-ALARIS.