April 2, 2014 – Studies suggest that roughly 70 percent of us will be unable to make decisions for ourselves at some point in our lives, but no more than a third of all American adults have an advance care plan in writing.
That’s why State Bar Elder Law Section members Ben Adams and Michael Kujawski are teaming up in this new video to get the word out about National Healthcare Decisions Day. Healthcare Decisions Day, which is on April 16, reminds folks to complete an advance directive documenting their preferences about issues surrounding end-of-life decisions.
“If you want your wishes to be met at the end of your life, you need to consider medical care and organ donation ahead of time, and share those thoughts with your family and legal counsel in writing,” said Adams.
Kujawski knows about the issue of health care decisions, both as an attorney and as a caring relative who was named an agent by two family members. Kujawski said talking about your feelings regarding end-of-life decisions with those close to you is crucial. The conversations may be tough, but your loved ones will appreciate the guidance even if they do not realize it at the time.
“People really need to have the talk. It is such a different experience when you’re the one in the hot seat having to make the decisions,” said Kujawski. “Dying with dignity is important, and it really needs to be respected.”
In recognition of Healthcare Decisions Day, the State Bar is offering free electronic access to its consumer guide, A Gift to Your Family: Planning Ahead for Future Health Needs, from April 16 to 23.
A Gift to Your Family offers practical insights on a range of issues surrounding end-of-life decisions, such as power of attorney for health care, living wills, and organ and tissue donation. The guide also includes state forms to help people put their wishes in writing.
The 24-page guide initially was produced in 2000 through a partnership with the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the Wisconsin Medical Society, and Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center. In 2006, the State Bar Communications Committee partnered with the Wisconsin Hispanic Lawyers Association to make the guide available in Spanish. The State Bar has distributed more than 500,000 print planning guides to hospitals, clinics, lawyers, and the public.