As the Fifth Annual National Healthcare Decisions Day approaches, I cannot help but think about how far we’ve come and what we’ve accomplished.  NHDD was founded out of the passion of a small group of dedicated people and organizations who recognized that we need to do better as a nation with respect to advance care planning.  The efforts have produced a grassroots initiative that has now touched the lives of millions.  And, we’ve done it with very little money and without a single full-time staffer.

The growth and impact numbers of NHDD are and should be a great source of pride, but the reality is that we’ve only just begun. 

A recent study in California found that approximately 80% of people said they believed that advance healthcare planning was important, yet less than 25% had actually engaged in it. At a minimum, those figures ought to be flipped.  Sadly, for untold numbers of those without their advance care planning in place, their families are going to be thrust into situations in which they will intimately understand the reality of why advance care planning is so important, which is that the absence of advance care planning all-to-often leads to pain, confusion, frustration, additional time and expense, worry, bickering, and myriad other horribles. 

It is my sincere hope that every adult in the US (and Canada, too, since they’ve joined our efforts with National Advance Care Planning Day), will have some exposure to NHDD and will then make it real in their own lives. 

Too many of us procrastinate on advance care planning discussions because the timing now just doesn’t feel right or because it’s a hard topic to broach. 

NHDD exists to eliminate the excuse.  With just one month until the fifth annual NHDD, just mark you calendar, gather your loved ones, watch the Speak Up video and have the talk.  And, when you’re done, be sure to document the discussion using one of free advance care planning forms.  When you do, the reality will sink in: a burden is lifted and you’re prepared.  It’s an awesome feeling.

Thanks to all who have made and continue to make NHDD a reality.