National Healthcare Decisions Day is April 16th. We all know we should have advance directives in place that tell medical professionals who our agent is when we cannot communicate and direct the agent as to our wishes. Do you have your health care proxy signed?
I have written about this in my ezine for years. Sadly, I posted in the blog in 2010 and from my review the statistics have not improved BUT awareness is growing.
Here’s part of a message I received from Dr. Pat Bomba (a/k/a rock star of the End of Life planning world and all-around super individual):
Today is the seventh annual National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD). This is a national day set aside to encourage everyone age 18 and older to have family discussions about personal values and beliefs, to choose a spokesperson, and to complete a health care proxy. NHDD exists to inspire, educate & empower the public & providers about the importance of advance care planning.
Who : You, your family, loved ones and friends. Everyone 18 years of age and older!
What : Speak with your husband, your wife, your loved ones and your doctor about your values, beliefs and what is important to you.
Where: Your home, around the kitchen table or wherever your family gathers to discuss important issues.
When: April 16 (NHDD) or any time in April!
Why: Anyone can face acute illness or injury and lose the ability to make medical decisions. Starting advance care planning discussions early will ensure your care and treatment is directed by someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf. Early conversation eases anxiety for your loved ones and provides peace of mind.
How: Real stories can help you start the conversation.
The health care proxy is the “magic” legal document in New York as established by New York Public Health Law section 2981. Known as a healthcare power of attorney in other states, we simply call ours the “health care proxy.” Statistics vary, but the average seems to be that less than 1/3 of our state population has a valid health care proxy in place. The New York State Department of Health has a very helpful online explanation, questions and answers and the official form for the health care proxy. Of course your attorney would be happy to assist you in preparing the health care proxy as part of your estate planning; I typically prepare a will, health care proxy and power of attorney as a package. The health care proxy form was designed to be valid without the need for attorney supervision or a notary public seal so you can literally set it up at your kitchen table. To be valid the form simply needs to include your name and address, your agent’s name and address, and have your signature in front of two witnesses, neither of whom can be the agent listed.
We also now have the Family Health Care Decisions Act in New York, that will allow family members to make decisions in the absence of a health care proxy. Do not rely on this measure, though, not when you can control who speaks for you and direct the choices they make on your behalf.
Get your health care proxy in place today – and then give it to your medical providers for your chart!