April 16 marks National Health Care Decisions Day, a day where we take action to empower each other to have conversations about our wishes regarding health care and establish a health care proxy who can speak for us if we can’t speak for ourselves.
Conversations about your wishes in the event of serious illness aren’t just for one specific phase of your life. In fact, you can have them at any age, and design a care plan in place long before you need it. In honor of National Health Care Decisions Day, here are three steps you can take today to start the conversation with a loved one and plan for the future:
1. Talk about what matters.
Do you want to have a conversation with a loved one about what is important to you in the event of serious illness or injury, but don’t know where to start? Check out The Conversation Project for resources on how to start the conversation, workbooks designed to help you build out your care plan and more.
2. Share your wishes with your loved ones and ask about theirs.
Now that you have the tools, have the conversation. Share your wishes with the person you want to be your health care decision maker and ask them to share theirs, trade tips on what you’re doing to stay physically and mentally healthy and make your plans official.
3. Break down the stigma around advance care planning.
Having a conversation about your wishes in the event of serious illness or emergency can be daunting, or even scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Hear from Peggy Maguire, president of the Cambia Health Foundation and Ellen Goodman, co-founder of the Conversation Project, about normalizing talking sharing your wishes and planning for the future on the HealthChangers podcast.