Last Thursday was National Health Care Decisions Day. As I sat around a conference table, I asked a group of colleagues how many had completed advance directives. Only about one third raised their hands! This is astonishing to me, because we are all hospice workers, we all know what we are supposed to do. And the next question: do you know where it is? brought fewer responses.
It's sad when we don't practice what we preach. It's bad enough when we are overweight and smoke, drink too much and drive too fast. But we of all people should be the poster children for having Living Wills and Medical Powers of Attorney completed. Is this like the shoemaker whose children went barefoot? Or the carpenter without a roof?
I especially like the Five Wishes forms. These are easily obtained on the website, and completed at leisure. There is no need to pay money for an attorney. I like them for their detail, which of course you can complete as much or as little as you desire. They incorporate the Living Will and the Health Care Proxy in the same form, then go on to planning your funeral. It should be noted here that I have no ties to the Five Wishes or the Aging With Dignity organization. But I applaud them for the work they have done to improve access to advance directives and increase education about them.
So how about it? Do you have yours completed? What about your family? Do you know where it is? Does your health care provider know? If the answers to any of these questions is no, you have work to do.