This is the 10-year anniversary of National Healthcare Decision Week, an annual event created to "... inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning."
The first National Healthcare Decision Day was in 2008. The event grew out of the realization that many families and medical personnel struggle to understand the healthcare wishes of a loved one who is not capable of speaking for him/herself.
Despite a decade-long effort and a push for advance directives by medical personnel, however, only 60% of older adults say that they have discussed end-of-life care (UCSF); about 50% have written advance directives (American Journal of Preventive Medicine).
The big question: Why do we find it so difficult to talk about and put decisions into writing? Researchers at Compassion and Choices, a not-for-profit organization focused on person-centered-care, have identified two major barriers: insufficient information and lack of doctor-patient understanding.
In an effort to remove these roadblocks, Compassion and Choices has created the "Truth in Treatment" initiative to help consumers ask more meaningful healthcare questions and to increase our ability to share our preferences with our doctors.
There's no doubt that advance planning is a serious and difficult endeavor. It can also be extremely rewarding, leaving you and your loved ones with a much clearer vision of YOUR healthcare wishes, whatever they may be.
NOTE: To access advance directive forms, click here for resources from the Illinois State Medical Society or here for resources from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Click here to access advance directives for all 50 states and U.S. territories.
The Illinois Caregiver, Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act recognizes the important role that family members and close friends ("Lay Caregivers") play in patient recovery after a hospitalization. As of this week, the CARE Act has become law in 36 states as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. Click here to download an Illinois-specific CARE Act wallet card that outlines the law's provisions.
The CARE Act is more than a nice idea. Research shows that informed Lay Caregivers can make a major difference in post-hospitalization health outcomes. One study, for example, found that patients with trained Lay Caregivers were over 5 times more likely to complete recommended post-hospital procedures than patients without similar support.
Though AARP is the national sponsor of the CARE Act, the act applies to patients of all ages. Versions vary slightly from state to state, but basic requirements are the same:
In the meantime, if you and/or your loved one feel that your post-hospital planning is not receiving the time and attention that it deserves,
SAVE THE DATE: Enhance your advocacy skills by attending CareSmart's "Becoming Your Best Advocate" program, Monday, April 17, 6:30-8:30 pm at Ela Area Public Library, Lake Zurich. Visit our Community Programs page for additional information.