Maybe it's because I spent most of my working life in the legal field and Wayne spent his working for doctors but we've always planned ahead. We signed our first wills when we were still in our twenties, we designated guardians for our boys when they were little so we'd know who would be responsible for them if something happened to us, and we never left them in the care of Grandma to travel for work or fun without giving her a medical power of attorney. It wasn't that we had some weird premonition or obsession with death; it was just tending to business.
The same is true about our own health care decisions. We've had those deep discussions...the ones involving the kind of care we'd want if we were unable to communicate our wishes and when to terminate that care. And the living wills and documents designating health care surrogates were signed years ago. Now don't let your imagination run wild in light of Wayne's little "episode." Neither of us is facing some health crisis...we've just covered that ground while we're healthy.
April 16 is National Health Care Decisions Day, a day set aside to raise awareness for those kinds of discussions and for the signing of durable powers of attorney and other medical directives. I love that they chose April 16 intentionally, playing on the saying that nothing in life is certain except death and taxes. One of our senior centers is hosting an open house to provide information and form to the public, and similar events are being held across the country.
The link above contains a number of different resources with further explanations of advance directives and the need for durable powers of attorney for healthcare decisions. The downloadable brochure from the American Hospital Association is particularly well-written and easy to understand.
You don't have to have a lawyer to complete an advance directive. The Decisions Day link above has a series of state-specific forms, and there are more examples here. Following the Terri Shiavo litigation, the Florida Senate added forms to its website so you might find something similar for your state. The thing to watch is whether your state requires the signature be notarized to make it legally binding.
High fives to you if you have your advance directives signed and in place. And if you don't...today is a good day to remedy that...to be a good Boy Scout and be prepared. That's my public service announcement for the week.