Monday, April 16, 2012

Planning for Death: National Healthcare Decisions Day

End of the Road (Shakespeare's Garden)
It's April 16, 2012 and aside from being tax time -- it's also National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD).  Death and taxes -- two of our least favorite topics.  I'm pleased to turn my blog over to Nathan Kottkamp, Founder and Chair of NHDD, a man who believes passionately in the need for us to be honest about what we would like at the end of life.  He encourages us to have an important conversation -- with ourselves and with each other.

As for me, somewhere I have an advance directive which I need to swap out for a MOLST form (I count myself fortunate to live in a state that has this form -- having been through the time when NY was not so enlightened and one needed a DNR signed for each care setting.  I pretty much know what my Mom would want (although it is not entirely clear to any of her children who is her proxy).  In a nutshell, I have a bit to do on all fronts and I plan to take some time to get it all done.  If I have time to think about where I'll be planted (or scattered) after my death, I should have time for this.   

.......and now, a word from Nathan Kottkamp

Are you one of the 80% of Americans who haven’t completed an Advanced Directive yet? We’ve all struggled with how to get started on this topic – and there are plenty of reasons why we resist:

Tulip Swan (Conservatory Garden)
  • Fear
  • Uncertainty
  • Not sure how to start
  • Don’t know what’s legally binding
  • Worried I’ll hurt someone’s feelings
  • Just haven’t had the time to do it 
That’s why we recognize April 16 as National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) – a movement designed to inspire, educate, and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning.  Put another way, NHDD is a day for all adults to mark their calendars, have the talk, and document the talk with an advance directive.

Regardless of your own reasons not acting already, you might find your way to start the conversation by watching this awesome three and a half minute video at It’s proof that it takes only a few minutes to start a conversation with your loved ones about advance care planning—a conversation that affects people for a lifetime. 
Tulip & Stone
Here are some specific things you can do for NHDD:

  • Lead by example.  Schedule time with your loved ones (on or before April 16) to “Have the Talk” and complete your own advance directive. There are many tools, including free forms, you can use to walk you through the process and make your wishes known; access them through the NHDD Public Resources page
  •  Encourage your loved ones and friends to learn more about advance directives and to complete their advance directives. You can forward this link:
  •  Share your advance directive with your healthcare providers and make sure it is on file in the event it is needed.

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