We can’t plan for everything. But we can talk about what is most important — in our life, and in our health care — with those who matter most. National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16 is an annual initiative to encourage people to express their wishes regarding health care and for health care teams to respect those wishes, whatever they may be.
If you don’t know where to start, we’re here for you! If you have 10 minutes (or less) today, you might choose one of the following 10 actions to plan for your health care, or to support someone you care for to make a plan. We’ve also included some more in-depth actions that you might consider in the coming days.
In 10 minutes or less, you could:
- Look at our Guide to Choosing a Health Care Proxy and think about who you may want as your health care proxy. A health care proxy is the one person you’d want to speak for you, and advocate for the care that’s right for you, if you’re unable to speak for yourself.
- Watch this short Practice Makes Perfect video for tips on how to start a conversation about someone’s wishes for care through the end of life — your own wishes, or the wishes of someone you care about.
- Send our Guide to Being a Health Care Proxy to your chosen proxy. Invite them for a tea, coffee, or video chat to talk about the guide and discuss what matters most to you.
- Browse the Conversation Starter Guide to help you think about what you want to talk about with your proxy.
- Reach out to any other people who you might want to know about who you’ve chosen as your health care proxy or what your wishes are. (That could include your doctor — take a look at our Guide for Talking with a Health Care Team.) For example:
A woman in Hawaii chose one of her three adult children as her proxy. She talked with all of her children as well as her siblings about her decision.
A man in Florida chose his wife as his proxy. He let his adult children from his previous marriage know that she would be the one to make decisions on his behalf. Later, when he couldn’t speak for himself, this helped avoid confusion.
- If you need more support thinking about what matters to you, walk through PREPARE for your Care for guided steps or 5 Wishes®, both can help get your wishes down on paper
- Ask three people you know if they’ve had the conversation. If they are interested, share our materials with them.
- Read a story from our blog, such as how Katy Butler’s family navigated health care decisions for her father, who had dementia.
- Connect with a leader or organization where you live, work, pray, or learn — such as your book group, employer, faith community, or professor —to see if they are interested in holding an event on this topic using our resources for communities.
- Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to learn more.
With a little more time, you could:
- Write a letter or an email to those important in your life to share your values and what matters most when it comes to your care wishes. If you’d like, set it up to arrive on April 16 for National Healthcare Decisions Day.
- Host a game night or a Death Over Dinner on April 16. Invite those most important in your life to break bread and talk about what matters most, together
- Watch a movie or show with friends and talk about it afterward. Check out this list of 10 Things to Watch Together to Jumpstart Conversations
- Read a book about death and care through the end of life and discuss it with someone you know. We have three lists of suggestions: our original list of 10 books, 12 additional books or 14 faith-based books.
- Listen to a podcast that speaks to the idea of being human: confronting our mortality, the loss of loved ones, and making the most out of our limited time here. Here are a few podcast suggestions.
However you decide to take action, The Conversation Project is here for you with resources and support.
Tell us what you plan to do in the comment below.
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