Taxes Are Done; Next Take 5 Steps to Prepare for Your Death
As the saying goes, the only guarantees in life are death and taxes. We all know what April 15th means; Tax Day. It only seems fitting then that April 16th is a day to prepare for your death. National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) on April 16th is a day focused on the importance of advance care planning.
Now, here at The Death Deck, we believe every day is a good day to prepare for the future. Heck, we even created a game to help people do just that! This year we’ve worked hard to bring more awareness to NHDD. Why? Because we believe that having a day that focuses on advance care planning isn’t something to fear, it should be embraced and celebrated!
Advance care planning can feel daunting. We’re here to give you a few ideas of simple steps you can take to get started.
1. Phone Medical ID (5min): Create your Medical ID in your smartphone. While a medical ID is not the same as an Advance Care Directive, it can include important information that can be accessed by emergency medical personnel or bystanders should you have a medical emergency. The Medical ID can be accessed from your locked screen and includes your emergency contacts, health conditions, blood type, allergies, and of course your name. Working in the Emergency Department for many years, we accessed countless Medical ID’s which helped get family members to the bedside quickly as well as kept people from being only known as a “John Doe” or “Jane Doe”.
2. Personal Support Checklist (5min): Take inventory of the people closest to you. Who do you feel knows you well and would respect and honor your wishes in a healthcare crisis? This may be your partner or child, but may not be. It could be a close friend or a relative that works in healthcare that you trust.
3. Confirm Your Health Care Proxy (15-30min): Give your prospective health care proxy (decision maker) a phone call. You can blame NHDD as your intro. “Hi Jane. Did you hear that today is National Healthcare Decisions Day? You know what they say, death and taxes, right?. You get it, Jane? Jane? Are you with me?. Anyways, it’s got me thinking about what I might want if something happens to me.” You can begin talking about why you are considering choosing them as your proxy. Listen to your gut as you talk with them. Do they seem uncomfortable with the task? Does what they’re saying seem in line with your thoughts?
4. Complete You Advance Directive (60min): It’s important to not only choose your healthcare proxy but to also complete your Advance Directive. This is a legal document that lays out what you would want for your healthcare in the event that you can no longer speak for yourself. You have now decided WHO you want to speak for you. The next step is the nuances of what you would want those decisions to be. We cannot predict every situation, however it’s helpful to give as much information as you have. We really like Prepare For Your Care as it has state specific very involved advance directives readily available for download. The Conversation Project has additional tools and resources to help with any questions you may have regarding advance care planning.
5. Play The Death Deck (Unlimited and FUN!): Now for the fun part! Documents and designations are only part of the picture. What you need now are the discussions. By playing a game like The Death Deck, you can begin thinking about a whole slew of topics that you may not have otherwise discussed. How much pain medicine would you want? What type of music or ambient sounds would you like to hear when you’re dying? Along with lots of other silly questions to get your creative death juices (ew?) flowing. By having these conversations, you will become more aware of your preferences as well as give confidence to those who are making decisions for you that they know what you want.
Get started with the questions below:
There you go! With as little as 5 minutes you can start to feel more prepared, have some peace of mind, and provide an incredible gift to your family and loved ones.By spending just a little time planning and thinking through these decisions now you’ll have a lifetime of mental comfort knowing that your end of life will align with your wishes.
And by playing The Death Deck you can even get some laughs out of the whole process.