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April 16, 2009 is National Health Care Decisions Day

All adults can benefit from thinking about what their healthcare choices would be if they are unable to speak for themselves. These decisions can be written in an advance directive so that others know what they are. Advance directives come in two main forms:

• A “healthcare power of attorney” (or “proxy” or “agent” or “surrogate”) documents the person you select to be your voice for your healthcare decisions if you cannot speak for yourself.
• A “living will” documents what kinds of medical treatments you would or would not want at the end of life.

National Healthcare Decisions Day is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare through conversations and the completion of advance directives. The NHDD initiative also is working with providers and facilities to ensure that individual wishes are respected, whatever they may be. Organizations and individuals interested in participating in or learning more about National Healthcare Decisions Day can do so on the NHDD Web site, which contains free outreach tools, a listing of national, state and community participants, and information about advance care planning.

Additional resources are available on the ABA Commission on Law and Aging Web Site.

Additional resources on advance planning and end-of-life legal issues can be found at ABA Law Info: Your Gateway to Information on Legal Topics that Affect Your Life.

Information about Utah’s law and advance healthcare directive form and instructions are available on the Web Site of the Utah State Courts.

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