National Healthcare Decisions Day: Why It Matters and How You Can Participate

April 4, 2023

National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is an annual initiative held on April 16th in the United States to promote and raise awareness about the importance of advance care planning. The goal is to encourage people to think about and communicate their healthcare preferences and decisions with their loved ones and healthcare providers.

NHDD was founded in 2008 by Nathan Kottkamp, a healthcare attorney, who wanted to create a national day dedicated to educating people about the importance of advance care planning. Since then, NHDD has grown into a nationwide movement with organizations, healthcare providers, and community groups coming together to raise awareness and provide resources to help individuals and families make informed decisions about their healthcare.

Advance care planning involves discussing and documenting your healthcare preferences, including the type of care you want and don’t want, in case you are unable to make decisions for yourself. It also involves designating a healthcare proxy, someone you trust to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, in case you cannot. Advance care planning ensures that your healthcare wishes are respected and honored, reduces the burden on your loved ones, and can improve the quality of care you receive.

NHDD is important because it encourages people to have important conversations with their loved ones and healthcare providers about their healthcare wishes, which can be challenging but necessary conversations to have. It also helps to remove the stigma around end-of-life discussions and advance care planning, and encourages individuals and families to take proactive steps towards ensuring their healthcare preferences are respected. By participating in NHDD, people can take control of their healthcare decisions and have peace of mind knowing their wishes will be honored.

There are several ways individuals can take action on National Healthcare Decisions Day and start their advance care planning. Here are some steps they can take:

  1. Start the conversation: Start a conversation with loved ones about your healthcare preferences and encourage them to share theirs. This can be a challenging conversation, but it’s important to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  2. Review advance care planning documents: Review advance care planning documents, such as living wills and healthcare proxies, and make sure they reflect your current healthcare wishes. If you haven’t created these documents yet, NHDD provides resources to help you get started.
  3. Choose a healthcare proxy: Choose a trusted person to be your healthcare proxy and make sure they understand your healthcare preferences.
  4. Communicate with healthcare providers: Discuss your healthcare preferences with your healthcare providers and make sure they are documented in your medical record.
  5. Review and update regularly: Review and update your advance care planning documents regularly to ensure they reflect your current wishes and preferences.
  6. Share with others: Share your advance care planning documents with your loved ones and healthcare providers, so they know your wishes in case you cannot communicate them yourself.

It’s never too early to start planning for the future, and by doing so, individuals can ensure that their healthcare wishes are respected and honored. Take action this National Healthcare Decisions Day!