A Unique Healthcare Decisions Day
COVID-19 Crisis Illustrates Importance of Advance Care Planning
By Larry Beresford
As healthcare professionals across America grapple with or prepare for a surge of COVID-19 cases, ICU placements, and deaths, many are emphasizing the importance of advance care planning to help people clarify their medical wishes and values.
Advance care planning encourages us to think about what kind of medical care we would want if we were too sick to express our wishes, while advance directives are a tool used to document certain healthcare decisions.
On April 16, National Healthcare Decisions Day, it is worth asking how the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced or changed our ideas about advance care planning. Experts say it has created unique opportunities for people to talk about difficult topics like the possibility of a catastrophic illness.
“This year’s National Healthcare Decisions Day may be the most important one we’ve ever had,” said Susan Enguidanos, PhD, a palliative care researcher and associate professor at the University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. “Many of us have more time on our hands as we are sheltering at home. You can take a little time, have the conversation with your loved ones, and talk about worst-case scenarios.”