Today is National Healthcare Decision Day - a great time to think about what you would want in the event of a health crisis in your life.
Dr. April Krutka with Regence BlueCross BlueShield says, "COVID-19 has impacted all of us in different ways, creating uncertainty and dramatically shifting our habits and routines, including the way we prioritize our healthcare."
Krutka says the pandemic has forced many to think of how a health crisis would affect their lives.
"What we've seen is that the pandemic actually created an increase in the need for advance care planning conversations," says Krutka.
She says those conversations should happen now, rather than when you are already sick.
"It's an activity that people should really do when they're well and feeling more healthy, expressing your desires and your wishes and talking about the way you want to live your life."
Here are the three steps Dr. Krutka recommends to help you get started:
1. Think about what matters most to you. What brings you joy and quality of life?
2. Identify a person to speak on your behalf, should you be unable to speak for yourself. Talk to that person and make sure they're comfortable as your medical power of attorney.
3. Turn a conversation into action, sharing these decisions with your healthcare team, friends and family.
Dr. Krutka recommends speaking to your doctor or attorney to determine which paperwork makes the most sense for your situation. Your advance directive may include a living will or pulse form, in addition to a medical power of attorney document.
"Advance care planning does not have to be scary, sad, or anxiety provoking," says Dr. Krutka.
She says having these conversations early can put you in control and ease some possible anxiety of what could lie ahead.
Help with making advance care plans is available on The Conversation Project, including a new COVID-19 conversation guide to help people navigate the advance care planning process with today’s challenges in mind.