National Health Care Decisions Day is TOMORROW

April 16, the day after Tax Day, is National Health Care Decisions Day (NHCDD). Slightly more than 1/3 of adults in the United States have any form of a written advance health care directive. NHCDD is a day of education and awareness, to encourage more individuals to plan for health care decisions. 

Events are held across the country, and NHCDD is a great opportunity to link up with an event or collaborate with the law and aging network providers in your community to share the message to encourage advance planning. The NHDD website has a map of participating organizations, liaisons, and events.

When working with clients on Advance Care Planning, keep these practice tips in mind:

  • Encourage all clients to name a health care proxy, agent, or surrogate in writing. Doing this makes it clear who the patient most trusts to make health care decisions.  
  • Advance Care Planning is an ongoing process, not a onetime fill-in-the-blank form.  
  • Encourage clients to develop and talk about health care values, goals, and priorities. Knowing what is most important to the person will lead to better health care decisions. There are a variety of tools to help people think about, talk about, and put in writing health care values, goals, and priorities.
  • Serious illness or injury will trigger rethinking of advance care planning for many people.  
  • Encourage clients to share copies of advance care planning documents with family, friends, and health care providers. Clients should also keep copies readily available.
  • Advance care planning is done by health care professionals, social work professionals, and legal professionals. Collaborating with other professionals will increase the effectiveness of advance care planning.  

The American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging publishes a comprehensive set of tools for advance care planning. This year, the ABA COLA has several new resources, including:

Several resources have been recently updated:

The National Center on Law and Elder Rights has two recorded trainings on Advance Care Planning in the Legal Trainings section of the website.