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National Healthcare Decisions Day is April 16: Plan Ahead and Set Up Your Advance Directives

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National Healthcare Decisions Day is an initiative to encourage patients to make advance directives, or to discuss their wishes about future healthcare decisions and put them in writing, so that loved ones, providers and facilities are aware of them, so they can respect those wishes, whatever they may be. 

In the past year, many people have lost loved ones due to the pandemic. Many people were faced with vital decisions about their care, and sometimes those decisions couldn’t be made by the patient. This has brought more awareness to this issue. 

In a medical emergency or serious illness, you may not able to make healthcare decisions for yourself. Designating a trusted healthcare agent who is aware of your wishes means you’ll have an advocate who can help speak on your behalf. You can also specify about life-sustaining treatments. 

Some common questions and answers about advance directives:  

  • Q. Can you update or change your advance directives and when should you do that?
  • A. Yes. It’s good to review and update your advance directive annually. You should also update if you experience one of the “four D’s”:  
  • 1. Diagnosis – you receive a serious diagnosis 
  • 2. Deterioration – your health is declining 
  • 3. Divorce  
  • 4. Death of your designated healthcare agent.  

It’s important to keep all the contact information for yourself and your healthcare agent up to date. 

  • Q. Do you need a lawyer to fill out the forms?  
  • A. In Utah, all you need is to sign them in front of a proper witness who is over 18 years of age. 
  • Q. What’s the most common thing you hear from patients about advance care planning?  
  • A. Many patients wish they’d made done advance care planning earlier. If you’re over 18, it’s a good idea to have advance directives in place. Once you make advance directives, share them with your loved ones and your healthcare provider. It’s always too early until it’s too late. 
  • Q. Where can the public go for more information on advance care planning and find the forms and know how to submit them? 
  • A. Visit the Intermountain Healthcare website.

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