To The Herald-Whig:
Some people are natural born decision-makers. Others of us fret and sweat over the smallest choices in life. It seems when it comes to health care, most of us fit into the second category.
It's estimated only a small minority of people have executed an advance directive, one of several legal documents that can be used to outline how a person's health care decisions will be made if they are unable to make the decisions themselves. Moreover, fewer than 50 percent of severely or terminally ill patients have an advance directive in their medical records.
The week of April 16-22 is National Healthcare Decisions Week, a time set aside to help move us to make decisions about our future health care. You can make the move now by deciding what types of health care you would want and not want if your medical condition left you unable to communicate; discussing your decisions with your loved ones and your doctor; documenting your decisions in writing using one or a combination of the following advance directives -- living will, durable power of attorney for health care and mental health declaration; and giving a copy of your advance directive to loved ones, your health care provider and the hospital you use.
Advance directives are not just for the terminally ill. They are for any person who might be struck by a medical emergency or life-limiting illness. Advance directives are for everyone. Advance directives are for you.
For more information, talk with your health care provider and go to NHDD.org.
Jeri Conboy, PhD., MSHCE, LCSW
Blessing Hospice and Palliative Care and Clinical Ethics