Celebrate National Healthcare Decisions Day by Creating an Advance Care Plan

April 14, 2023, Advanced Care Planning

Celebrate National Healthcare Decisions Day by Creating an Advance Care Plan

If you live in Maryland, lack an advance care plan, and lose the capacity to make your own healthcare decisions, then your future will be determined by a list laid out by state law.

For those in such a situation, the decisionmaker is decided by order of priority, under MD Health-Gen §5-605. Here is the list:

  1. A spouse or domestic partner
  2. An adult child
  3. A parent
  4. An adult sibling
  5. A friend or other relative who can present an affidavit showing specific facts and circumstances demonstrating regular contact sufficient to be familiar with the patient’s activities, health and personal beliefs.

Many might actually be comfortable with this list if the unforeseen comes to pass. But consider, just for a moment, how those on your list might feel. Will they be comfortable making decisions for you without any instruction or direction from you? Remember, they’ll be making these decisions while also trying to process your serious health condition.

It doesn’t have to come to this. By taking a few easy steps while you are in good health, you can put a thoughtful plan in place that will take care of everything – your loved ones and you – if disease or tragedy comprises your capacity to decide in the moment. There’s no better time to do so than right now.

National Healthcare Decisions Day is April 16 every year to educate healthcare providers and consumers about advance care planning and to empower all to make their wishes for care known.

Advance care planning, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, “is a process, not an event, and is planning for future care based on a person’s values, beliefs, preferences, and specific medical issues. Advance care planning includes three primary steps:

  • Completing an advance directive (sometimes known as a living will);
  • Appointing a healthcare power of attorney (someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to); and
  • Sharing this information with your loved ones to ensure your wishes are honored.

Gilchrist helps patients and families through difficult conversations every day, including advance care planning. We provide advice and assistance documenting your healthcare wishes. You can click here to access all available resources. Additionally, to simplify the process, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is offering a free, state-specific tool online to complete your advance directive. For the Maryland form, click here.

Resolve to do it in celebration of National Healthcare Decisions Day. Complete your advance care plan and then get back to doing what you do best: living.

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