STATE—In recognition of April 16 as National Healthcare Decisions Day, the Department of Health and Senior Services encourages New Jersey residents to discuss their healthcare preferences and plan ahead for end-of-life care decisions with their physicians and family. National Healthcare Decisions Day highlights the importance of having an advance directive, which is a document that states your health care preferences.
“Completing an advance directive and having conversations with your physician and family is the best way to ensure that your dignity and autonomy are honored should you become a patient who is no longer able to make your own healthcare decisions,” said Commissioner Poonam Alaigh. “Having a clearly written directive can relieve some of the decision-making burden often experienced by family members, friends and health care providers.”
New Jersey has two kinds of advance directives, a “proxy directive” and an “instruction directive.” A proxy directive, sometimes known as a durable power of attorney for healthcare, is a document that designates the person you want to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you become unable to make them yourself. An instruction directive, sometimes known as a living will, documents your values, beliefs and goals as they relate to your preferences for certain medical treatment.
The Department recently updated its web site to provide residents with forms, tools and guidance to help create their own personal advance directive. The Department’s online resources, available at www.nj.gov/health/advancedirective, include advance directive forms, educational materials, toolkits for completing an advance directive and links to web sites with additional information on hospice and palliative care.
As part of their participation in National Healthcare Decisions Day, many hospitals and hospices will have educational programs for the public and most will have staff available to answer specific questions and to assist individuals in completing an advance directive. For times and locations of the educational programs check the Calendar of Events page on the Department’s advance directives site.
National Healthcare Decisions Day is sponsored by many national, state and community organizations including the AARP, American Medical Association, American Bar Association and National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. For more information about National Healthcare Decisions Day visit www.nationalhealthcaredecisionsday.org.
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