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National Healthcare Decisions Day is Almost Here

Have you thought about your five wishes?

What are your five wishes? Winning the lottery? Taking a European sabbatical? When health care officials and advance care planning advocates ask that question, they’re talking about what you would like the final weeks, days and moments of your life to look like.

April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day and this year’s theme is “it always seems too early, until it’s too late.” Local officials and planning advocates have dedicated the entire month of April to the initiative, said Paula Beatty, Strategic Program Manager for the Advance Care Planning Initiative of the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition.

Creating a living will doesn’t need to be daunting or depressing, Beatty said. But it does need to be taken seriously. Five Wishes is a national program created by the non-profit organization Aging with Dignity. The program includes a book used by many advance care professionals.

“This process is really about taking control of our lives and letting our wishes be known,” Beatty said. “People who’ve taken one of our classes and completed a living will actually feel a sense of relief and accomplishment. They know they’ve checked it off their list … just in case.”

The five wishes include: whom people want to make healthcare decisions for them when they can’t, what kind of medical treatment they want, and what they want their loved ones to know.

Advance Care Planning sponsors free, two-hour community classes for Snohomish County residents that guide discussions on what living well means when faced with a serious illness or injury. Classes provide an introduction to advance care planning options, including informational handouts and conversation starters for family, physicians or legal professionals on how to select a healthcare advocate; choosing preferred care and treatment options; and completing legal planning documents.

*View the ACP calendar for registration information and check out new class times/locations as they become available.

Advance Care Planning Initiative

Less than one third of Americans has an advance care directive in place at end of life. The Advance Care Planning Initiative (ACP) is working to reverse this trend in Snohomish County by sponsoring workshops that guide discussions on what living well means when dealing with quality-of-life issues. The volunteer-led workshops provide an introduction to advance care planning options, including informational handouts with questions and conversation starters that can be shared with loved ones and healthcare professionals to start building a plan for the future.

Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition

The Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition is a countywide alliance of local leaders in non-profit, healthcare, education and business organizations, dedicated to addressing the challenges of delivering sustainable healthcare. The group aims to promote the economic development of the region by improving the health, quality of life and competitiveness of the community.

National Healthcare Decisions Day

National Healthcare Decisions Day exists as a 50-state annual initiative to provide clear, concise, and consistent information on healthcare decision-making to both the public and providers/facilities through the widespread availability and dissemination of simple, free, and uniform tools (not just forms) to guide the process. NHDD entails 50 independent, but coordinated, state and local events (necessitated by the difference in state laws and dynamics) supported by a national media and public education campaign.