National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is April 16. Hospice Care Plus is honoring the day by offering free resources to help individuals make and document their healthcare decisions for every stage of life. 

Advance care planning is the process of thinking through the care you want—and do not want—if a medical crisis strikes and you are unable to communicate your wishes. Advance directives are legally binding documents that formalize those wishes. 

How to Know What Your Healthcare Options and Wishes Are 

We love Caring Info for listing treatment options and explaining medical and legal terminology accurately and understandably. It also has information about talking to your doctors and family and resources for caregivers.

We highly recommend the Conversation Project as an excellent way to help you decide what kind of health care you want in every stage of life. The free What Matters to Me Workbook is a great place to begin if you don’t know what your wishes are in the event of a serious illness. The site also includes downloadable guides for caregivers and tips on talking with your doctor and family about your wishes. 

Confused about DNR, EMS, Health Care Surrogate, and More? 

You’re not alone. The words and abbreviations involved in reading and talking about care and treatment options in advance care planning can be very confusing. For instance, what’s the difference between a living will and an advance directive? This Glossary of Terms from ACP Decisions decodes abbreviations and explains what these terms mean. 

Making Your Decisions Stick 

In addition to informing your family and healthcare providers of your wishes, you also need to formalize your preferences in the advance care planning documents available to you in your state. Together, these two steps will go a long way toward ensuring that your wishes are honored and respected. 

Kentucky Advance Care Planning Documents:  The Kentucky Living Will is a comprehensive document that allows you to identify a healthcare surrogate and your preferences on life-prolonging interventions, artificial nutrition and hydration, and organ and tissue donation. There is also space to outline other healthcare instructions. 

MOST–Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment: The MOST formis a recent addition to Kentucky’s advance care planning options. It allows you to make more detailed healthcare decisions and is completed with your physician, so you can feel confident that your wishes are documented and respected in any healthcare setting. 

While you can download and review the form online, it is important to complete it with a healthcare provider. They will not only help ensure that the medical orders reflect your current health status and treatment preferences but also must sign the form to validate it. 

Other States’ Advance Care Planning Documents: If you are outside of Kentucky, this helpful directory will link you to the correct document(s) for your state of residence. 

Our Gift to You: An All-In-One Resource

It can be overwhelming to piece together an advance care directive using all the different resources presented in this article. If you prefer using one simple source that can guide you through the steps described above, we recommend Five Wishes. 

 

Five Wishes is a booklet that lets you document a surrogate and general medical care wishes, similar to the Kentucky Living Will Packet. But, it goes beyond those basics to express other wishes that are important to you, even if they aren’t legally binding. It also guides you through how to talk with your family about your wishes. 

Five Wishes is available online for a small fee. But, during the months of April and May, Hospice Care Plus will mail the booklet free to anyone who requests it and lives in our service area of Estill, Jackson, Lee, Madison, Owsley and Rockcastle counties in Kentucky. To take advantage of the free Five Wishes booklet or to ask general questions about advance care planning, call 859-986-1500 during regular office hours or email hospice@hospicecp.org. 

Hospice Care Plus was founded as a non-profit organization to support the quality of life of its communities through hospice, palliative, and bereavement care programs. The organization serves Estill, Jackson, Lee, Madison, Owsley, and Rockcastle counties and owns and operates the Compassionate Care Center in Richmond. Relying on contributions from individuals and groups, all care is provided regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. Make a gift, explore career and volunteer opportunities, or call 859-986-1500 to learn more.