Put it in Writing!!! - William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital
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William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital


Put it in Writing!!!

Photo of a Madison VA Social Worker assisting a patient with an advance directive.

Photo of a Madison VA Social Worker assisting a patient with an advance directive.

By Krissy Frank and Rose Havens, LCSW
Friday, April 13, 2012

Each day we plan our meals, daily schedule, appointments, weekend plans, phone calls and every other little detail that helps fill our time. Yet, in our day to day shuffle, we neglect or forget to make some of the most important decisions; those involving our own health care.  It is more fun to plan outings with friends and family than it is to think about the “what-ifs” of the future and our health care needs as we get older. But if we wait too long to make these decisions, we may lose the chance to make them all together. There is no time like the present to start talking with loved ones and your health care providers about future health care plans and decisions.  After you talk about it, put it in writing!

April 16, 2012 is “National Healthcare Decisions Day.” It is a day set aside to educate people about the importance of health care planning and to encourage people to express their personal wishes regarding health care, in writing, before a health care crisis occurs. It is important for adults of all ages and stages of life to consider who is best-suited to make medical decisions for them. Without putting these directives in writing, important decisions may be left to medical professionals, estranged family members or even the Court system; people who are not aware of your feelings and wishes about health care.

Health care advance directives allow a person to either direct treatment, through a living will, or direct a person to make health care decisions for you once you are unable, through a Power of Attorney for Health Care. These documents provide you control over your own health care as well as allowing your loved ones information as to your health care wishes and desires when it comes to making important decisions. It is a way to take control of your future and making sure your voice is still heard once you are unable to make health care decisions yourself.

Make today the day you start planning for your future health care. Sit down a write your do’s and don’ts when it comes to health care decisions. What would you want done to you and for you in a terminal condition? Who would you want to direct you care if you were unable? What is important to your quality of life? Would you want to have a feeding tube or to be put on life-support?  Then talk about your decisions with your family and health care provider and put it in writing. Planning for your future health care does not have to be overwhelming and depressing. It can be a way for you to take and keep control of your health care decisions, no matter what happens now or in the future. Be an advocate for yourself and for your own health by making your own health care decisions now.

Illinois Living Will             Illinois Power of Attorney for Health Care 

Wisconsin Living Will       Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care 


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