April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD).
Those of us who offer legal counsel, financial and insurance advisory services, or health care related services, should be particularly mindful of the day’s significance.
NHDD, first observed in 2008, is a time to educate the public and providers about the importance of advance health care decision-making, inspire conversations about advance directives, and empower Americans to create advance directives.
The topic of advance directives is often a very difficult one for families and caregivers. April 16 was set aside as a catalyst to facilitate action and as a tool to begin “the conversation.” Think of it as an excuse to confront the elephant in the room, and then blame it on the fact that it’s April 16!
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It may be coincidental, but certainly fortuitous, that NHDD falls within National Financial Literacy Month – a time when many professional advisors have their radar up as they engage in outreach to promote the importance of financial literacy and estate planning. With advance directives (living will, health care surrogate, preneed guardianship, etc.) being components of a comprehensive estate plan, our firm has chosen to undertake an outreach campaign with a broad scope during the month of April. We highlight both financial literacy and advance care planning in April, because the topics are connected.
Why the need for a national awareness day?
It’s all about strength in numbers and eliminating geographic borders. NHDD is a nationwide collaborative effort involving health care facilities, libraries, drug stores, churches, synagogues, and many other non-health care venues. Every year on April 16, these organizations unite with a single message to ensure that all adults with decision-making capacity have the information and opportunity to communicate and document their decisions. They simply need to begin by having “the conversation.”
NHDD will help Americans understand that making future health care decisions includes much more than deciding what care they would or would not want; it starts with expressing preferences, clarifying values, identifying care preferences and selecting an agent to express health care decisions if patients are unable to speak for themselves.