5 ways to help your family if you become seriously ill


Ira Byock, M.D.

We spend more time planning our summer vacations than we do planning for our inevitable journey from life. Sure, mapping that getaway to Maui is more fun than contemplating your own mortality. But failing to prepare for life’s final destination is like taking a trip without booking reservations – you’re likely to wind up in a situation not of your choosing.

National Healthcare Decisions Day, April 16, offers an opportunity for us to have conversations with loved ones about our values, preferences and priorities when it comes to our care through the end of life.

That conversation typically begins with a reflection on what matters most and results in filling out an advance directive – a legal document that allows you to appoint someone as your health care agent in the event you become unable to speak for yourself.

Providence will honor the week of National Healthcare Decisions Day with events and resources to help caregivers and members of the public complete advance directives. These efforts build on the innovative  health incentive that Providence offered to its caregivers this year. Of the 55,000 benefits-eligible Providence caregivers who participated, roughly 51,000 pledged to complete a goal related to their advance care planning as part of their 2016 health activity.

Steps you can take to plan ahead

1. Download and print your advance directive here (choose your state)

2. Complete the advance directive to make it clear in writing who has authority to speak for you should you be unable

3. Scan a copy of your signed advance directive and share with your health care agent, other trusted family members, and your doctor

4. Have goals-of-care conversations with loved ones and your doctor

5. Watch this video to hear what Providence caregivers learned from going through the process of advance care planning with their families.

National Healthcare Decisions Day offers a chance for us to initiate a conversation about our goals of care through the end of life, and to complete an advance directive. Because when it comes to advance care planning, it always seems too soon – until it’s too late.

Your turn

Do you have an advance directive? What advice would you give to encourage someone who has been putting off advance care planning?

Learn more – free webinar Wednesday, April 13

Register for a free webinar on how to have end-of-life care conversations, featuring Ira Byock, M.D., founder and chief medical officer for the Institute for Human Caring – noon (PST), Wednesday, April 13.

  1. Too bad that today, 4/28, I received the info about the free webinar that was held on 4/13. That would have been very helpful.