LANSING — State Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt) introduced House Resolution 68 yesterday to designate April 16, 2019, as Healthcare Decisions Day in the state of Michigan. National Healthcare Decisions Day is recognized annually on this same date and is intended to raise public awareness of the need to plan ahead for healthcare decisions and end-of-life care.

“Too few people in Michigan have a clear understanding of advance directives, and even fewer have completed one themselves,” said Hope. “This often forces families and healthcare providers to make difficult decisions without guidance from the patient. By raising awareness, we can encourage more citizens to begin these important conversations and sign advance directives to protect themselves and their families.”

An advance directive is a document that can address the following questions:

  • Who a patient wants to make health care decisions on their behalf if they can no longer make or express their own decisions;
  • What type of life-sustaining medical treatment the patient wants and whether they wish to be resuscitated;
  • What measures should be taken to make the patient comfortable physically, emotionally, and spiritually; and
  • What the individual’s wishes are once they die, including details about any funeral services, organ donation, and final resting place.

Patients and their families can seek the advice of medical and legal professionals as they complete their advance directives. It is estimated that only about 20 percent of people in Michigan have created an advance directive, largely because they are often written in legal and medical terms that are difficult to understand. However, nonprofits such as Aging with Dignity offer directive forms written in plain language to make the planning process easier.