Before it’s Too Late – Make Your End of Life Care Wishes Known

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 7, 2009 — Fewer than one-third of the adult population have a health care power of attorney or other advance directive. While many of us may be afraid to talk about death, it is critically important to name someone to make health care decisions for you if and when you are no longer able to speak for yourself.  Secondly, talk about your end-of-life values and goals with that person and other loved ones.  This will help ensure that loved ones aren’t burdened with “guessing” end of-life care wishes in the event of a sudden change in health or a life threatening accident.

The National Healthcare Decisions Day initiative takes place on April 16. It is part of a collaborative effort of national, state and community organizations committed to ensuring that all adults have the information they need to be proactive in communicating and documenting their healthcare decisions.  The _ has a 10-point toolkit for consumers that helps make the process easier to navigate.  And the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization provides state-specific forms for use.

To help educate consumers, the ABA Commission on Law and Aging has developed free resources to help you make, discuss and document future healthcare wishes and decisions, including a fact sheet titled 10 Myths and Facts About Health Care Advance Directives. Additional resources on advance planning and end-of-life legal issues can be found at ABA Law Info: Your Gateway to Information on Legal Topics that Affect Your Life.

Experts recommend reviewing advance care planning documents at critical life stages, including the “5 Ds”— every new Decade of your life, after the Death of a loved one, after a Divorce, after any significant Diagnosis and after any significant Decline in functioning.

End-of-life issues are difficult to think about and even more challenging to discuss, but the best time to do so is when you are healthy. Take time on National Healthcare Decisions Day to develop an advance directive and address your wishes with your loved ones.

With more than 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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