​National Healthcare Decisions Day

April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day. Each year, this day is set aside to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning.

All adults can benefit from this national initiative of thinking about what their healthcare choices would be if they are unable to speak for themselves. These decisions can be written down in an advance directive so that others know what they are. There are two primary forms of advance directives:

  • A "healthcare power of attorney"(or "proxy, "agent," "surrogate") documents the person you select to be your voice for your healthcare decisions if you cannot speak for yourself.
  • A "living will" documents what kinds of medical treatments you would or would not want at the end of life.

From the experts:

An advance directive can be made at any time in your life. These directives can give you and your loved ones peace of mind, help prevent questions, confusion, and disagreements among family members. A qualified plan can advise health care providers to what your choices are if you are unable to speak for yourself and can prevent unnecessary medical expenses for treatment, hospital stays, and nursing homes.

Employers can play a role in starting the conversation. Leading employers are beginning to recognize and address the impact terminal illnesses and end-of-life decision making have on their workforce.  Talk with family members about your living will or advance directive. Decide who will be responsible for making decisions if you cannot.



Need help? Download our booklet, Courage in Conversation. This booklet (also available in Spanish) will take you through the importance of an advance directive and answer questions such as:

Who should I choose as my agent?
Where should I keep my advance directive?
How can I address organ donation in my advance directive?
What other documents do I need?
When can I change my advance directive?
How long is it effective?

It includes worksheets to help you prepare for the conversation (prognosis, quality of life, treatments and the end of the journey). It also includes a State of Ohio Living Will Declaration form, Donor Registry Enrollment Form (optional) and a State of Ohio Health Care Power of Attorney form.


Create an advance care plan - Center for Disease Control

"Who is Making Your Medical Decisions?" - President and CEO Bill Finn.

National Healthcare Decisions Day website.

Professional Resources

Patients Values Checklist
Serious Illness Conversation Guide


Press release