ABA offers no-cost resources on National Health Care Decisions Day

The American Bar Association recognizes the eighth annual National Healthcare Decisions Day on Thursday, April 16, with several free resources on advance care planning.

Sponsored by the ABA and 1,500 organizations nationwide, NHDD is intended to inspire, educate and empower the public and health care providers about the importance of advance care planning. It is a 50-state annual catalyst for action intended to provide clear information on health care decision making to both the public and providers/facilities.

The ABA offers four resources to help citizens express their health care wishes and guide providers that seek to respect those wishes, whatever they may be. These resources include:

- A multi-state health care power of attorney The document names a health care proxy who will serve effectively as your voice when you can't speak for yourself. Called the number one legal task every adult should accomplish, a health care proxy may also be obtained from local hospitals, bar associations or offices on aging. ABA experts suggest that users not only sign the proxy, but also use it as a conversation starter with loved ones to best ensure its effectiveness.

- The ABA Advance Care Planning Toolkit This collection of online resources helps users create advance health care directives and communicate them to loved ones. The tool kit includes useful forms as well as sections on choosing a power of attorney, health and financial decisions, making medical decisions for someone else, a legal guide for the seriously ill, and myths and facts about healthcare advance directives.

- Making Medical Decisions for Someone Else: A How-To Guide This is a guide for anyone in the role of health care decision maker for someone else. It explains your role and responsibilities, provides guidelines for decision making, suggests strategies for resolving disputes, and offers tips for dealing with special situations often faced by proxies.

- Legal Guide for the Seriously Ill: Seven key steps to get your affairs in order The onset of a serious illness or injury can affect much more than a person's health. Knowing what steps to take to get your financial and legal affairs in order is important not only to you, but to your loved ones. The guide provides information on seven key steps to consider if you or a loved one faces serious illness or injury and provides tips and resource links that will give you much more detailed information and guidance, as needed.

In addition, the ABA distributes a useful smartphone app to help make sure your health care advance directive is available at the right place at the right time. Called My Health Care Wishes, the app costs $3.99 and enables individuals and their family members to store their health care advance directives, such as a living will or health care proxy, on their mobile devices and instantly share their directive when needed by email, fax or Bluetooth. The app can also store and share key health information, health care contacts, and family contacts.

For additional information, visit www.ambar.org/news.

Published: Mon, Apr 13, 2015