The Home Care Alliance supports National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), which is April 16th, and was created to educate and empower the public about advance care planning – the ongoing process of discussing and clarifying the current state of a person’s goals, values and preferences for future medical care. It has amassed a national following, with over 1,000 organizations participating each year, including the American Association of Retired Persons, the American Medical Association, and other state and local organizations.
The NHDD website has great information, including how to obtain an advance directive, legal resources that are available, and how to engage your family in these important conversations about one’s care.
In Massachusetts, it can’t be assumed that a spouse or other family member will be authorized to make medical decisions on their loved one’s behalf in all situations or settings. In Massachusetts, if a person has lost the ability to make medical decisions (e.g. because of unconsciousness, coma, dementia or other mental limitations), it is their “health care agent” who is legally authorized to make medical decisions on their behalf.
To plan for future medical care, all adults ages 18 and older, whether they are healthy or sick, should name their health care agent by filling out and signing a legal form called a health care proxy form.
A health care proxy is the only legally authorized advance directive in Massachusetts. “Advance Directive” is a general term referring to a written document for future medical care in the event that a person loses capacity to make health care decisions.
For more information on Healthcare Decisions Day, visit www.nhdd.org.
Information on other state-specific resources are available on this mass.gov webpage.
Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.