NC health care providers and advocates encourage the completion of advance directives
National Healthcare Decisions Day is Friday, April 16, and health care providers and patient advocates want to help the public learn about the importance of advance care planning.
According to advocates, advance care planning is about helping ensure that your wishes and choices are consistent with the treatment you receive if you were unable to speak for yourself.
Dr. Arif Kamal, MD, an oncologist at Duke Health, states, “Even in this time of COVID-19 as older adults have disproportionately fallen ill from the virus, a new national poll found that less than half of 50+ adults formally recorded their care wishes for when they become seriously ill.”
There are two types of advance directives:
- A living will defines medical treatment you would want if you were unable to speak on your own behalf. It spells out a person’s wishes for health professionals on issues such as whether to begin mechanical ventilation.
- A health care power of attorney appoints someone to make health care decisions on your behalf. The appointed health care agent, or proxy, becomes your spokesman to advocate on the medical treatment you lay out in the document if you cannot communicate for yourself.
You do not need to work with an attorney to create advance directives, however in North Carolina documents must be signed in the presence of two witnesses and a notary. Once completed, you can file them with the NC Secretary of State’s Office registry or keep in a readily accessible place.
According to David Sevier, who facilitates the NC Serious Illness Coalition Care, “planning for these circumstances is never easy, but it is a true gift to your loved ones. These discussions, – on a front porch or a dining room table rather than in the intensive care unit, – can be among the richest and most intimate that friends and family share. Studies show that meaningful conversations about these choices enable survivors to feel less guilt and depression and result in an easier process of grieving.”
The NC Serious Illness Coalition now announces a new comprehensive set of seven short videos on its website featuring North Carolina providers, patients, and health care advocates to help individuals better understand the “why” and “how to” of putting advance directives in place.
In addition to these videos, the NC Serious Illness Coalition has speakers to help folks understand how to make advance care planning work for you.
Have more resources to share for Healthcare Decisions Day? Comment below!