April is national healthcare decisions month, and the special week dedicated to encouraging advance care planning – making sure you can receive the medical care you want even if you are not in a position to articulate it yourself – starts April 16th.
Throughout April, the healthcare community is encouraging individuals and families to focus on the process that you want your loved ones and caregivers to follow if you become seriously ill. One of the easiest ways to start this process is to designate someone as your healthcare agent and make sure your agent knows your wishes by filling out a simple healthcare proxy.
The nonprofit organization Honoring Choices Massachusetts offers a free, online “Getting Started Toolkit” that walks you through easy steps to choose and designate a healthcare agent, and fill out a basic healthcare proxy document. The forms and information can be reviewed and downloaded here
. You can also access the Honoring Choices forms and lots of additional information through PatientCareLink
– Just click on “Healthcare Planning Throughout Your Life” under the For Patients & Families tab, or “Serious Illness Care” under Improving Patient Care.
Having a healthcare proxy and advanced care plan in place can ensure that your family will not be burdened with making tough decisions on your behalf and that your wishes will be carried out. Having a plan in place can also help prevent disputes between family members who may have differing ideas about the care you should, or should not, receive. Avoiding such disagreements in care settings also assists the caregiving team members, who will be able to provide the care you wish without conflict.