Because “It Always Seems Too Early Until It’s Too Late”

Did you know that National Health Care Decision Day has become a whole week with daily themes? It starts on April 16th, and in order to get your resources together, there are a few terms you will need to know.

  •  An Advanced Directive is a living will that allows an individual to choose and document his/her wishes concerning medical treatment.  It can be completed by a healthy individual or someone who may have been diagnosed with a serious health issue.
  • A Living Will is a legal document that informs family, caretakers, friends and health care professionals of decisions made regarding end of life care.  It is not an extension of a personal will and only addresses health matters.

Advanced Directives (Health Care Proxy, Do Not Resuscitate, POST or MOLST forms) are legally valid throughout the United States.  It does not require a lawyer; however, the witnesses must meet requirements in your state.  They do not expire and remain in effect until changed by the individual.  Witnesses should not be related by blood or marriage or entitled to any portion of the person’s estate.  Talk to your nurse in our Wellness Office regarding the different choices available to you and they can guide you to the correct forms.     

On Monday, April 17th , the theme for the day is “Start with yourself”. On this day, think about your own healthcare decisions based upon your individual preferences and beliefs.

It is about Family, Friends and Loved Ones on Tuesday April 18th. This is the day to discuss your wishes with others and learn their wishes too.  This may not be easy to discuss because it evokes feelings of sadness to think we might need to make life decisions for our loved ones. However, decisions are always easier when you know the person’s wishes and have talked about it beforehand instead of under duress.

 On Wednesday April 19th – Spread the word! Use this day to tell others that you’ve engaged in advance care planning and encourage them to do the same. Make sure you inform your physicians of your wishes/preferences so they can be your advocate and abide by your wishes too.

Thursday, April 20th – Facilities Focus on a day for healthcare providers to promote advance care planning. Information can be found at or The Will to Live Project which provides state specific forms for designating an agent and stating healthcare wishes.  Our Nurses in our Wellness Offices can provide the advanced care planning forms.

Professional Preparedness Day is Friday, April 21st. This day is dedicated to ensuring all professionals such as physicians and other healthcare professionals, clergy, attorneys and legal professionals understand Advanced Care Planning. It is the hope that they will promote and aide in the discussion of advanced care planning.

Lastly, Saturday April 22nd is a day of Reflection and Readiness. We will all reflect on what worked well, file/share your advance care plans so they will be available if/when needed.

There are many difficult decisions to make and difficult conversations to be had when looking at your healthcare decisions. It is well worth all of our time and effort to make sure these decisions are made in a calm environment and not under stress. It is important that we advocate for not only our wishes but the wishes of our loved ones.

Have questions about the information in this article? Click here to find and contact a local Hearth community near you to learn more!

Written by: Janet L. Haynes, Vice President of Clinical Services for Hearth Management

janets-pictureJanet has been in the Health Care field since the mid 1980’s to include positions in the areas of Resident Activities, Care Aide, Licensed Practical Nurse, Registered Nurse and Executive Director in the fields of Home Care, Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living. Janet has been with Hearth Management since 1996 holding various positions from Director of Nursing, Administrative Assistant and Executive Director of Castle Gardens. Currently, as the Director of Clinical Services she oversees and coordinates Resident Care and Services, State Regulatory Compliance, Employee/Resident Retention, In-services and Training for Hearth Communities. Janet has extensive experience in Memory Care to include the development of Hearth’s “Care Connect” Program. She is a former board member for the Alzheimer’s Association of Central New York. Janet is an ALFA Champion Award Recipient, participated in ALFA’s Clinical Round Table and recognized for her accomplishment with the Southern Tier 20 under 40 Award. Janet’s primary role as Director of Clinical Services is overseeing our Medical Departments for regulatory compliance and quality assurance activities to provide a high standard of care to our residents.

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