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National Healthcare Decisions Day


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Dear Ones,

This important announcement comes to us from the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC):

National Healthcare Decisions Day...Because Your Decisions Matter

History will be made April 16, 2008. Approximately 50 of the most prominent national healthcare, religious and legal associations and organizations as well as countless local and state organizations will participate in the inaugural National Healthcare Decisions Day. At every level, the goal of this nation-wide initiative is to ensure that all adults with decision-making capacity in America have both the information and the opportunity to communicate and document their future healthcare decisions.

While making healthcare decisions is often difficult in the best of circumstances, making decisions for others is even more complicated. Each of us has the ability to guide our healthcare providers and our loved ones about what we want.

Advance directives give you the ability to document the types of healthcare you do and do not want and to name an "agent" to speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself. As Terri Schiavo's situation vividly revealed, having an advance directive can be valuable for all adults, regardless of current age or health status.

With the Patient Self-Determination Act of 1990, Congress affirmed the right of every citizen to set forth his or her future healthcare wishes in writing with an "advance directive." Yet, various estimates suggest that fewer than 25% of all Americans have an advance directive. For an action that can be done without a lawyer, for free, and relatively easily, this figure is astonishingly low.

In recognition of this, National Healthcare Decisions Day strives to provide much-needed information to the public, reduce the number of tragedies that occur when a person's wishes are unknown, and improve the ability of healthcare facilities and providers to offer informed and thoughtful guidance about advance healthcare planning to their patients.

Please visit www.nationalhealthcaredecisionsday.org for a variety of free information (including free advance directives forms for every state) and tools to assist with thoughtful reflection on healthcare choices. Additionally, watch for events in your community honoring National Healthcare Decisions Day.

With healthcare, "your decisions matter" -- however, others need to know your wishes to honor them. There are no right answers when thinking about healthcare choices and completing an advance directive. Please use April 16, 2008, to decide, discuss and document your wishes, whatever they may be.

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