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Do yourself an important favor

In Santa Barbara, they’re calling the effort “Get It Done Today!” The rest of the country is going with the more somber “National Healthcare Directives Day.” Regardless of what you call this campaign, the urgency is genuine. This Wednesday — National Healthcare Directives Day — is as good a time as any to get your end-of-life wishes regarding health care down on paper.
Consider it a favor to your family, your health care providers and, most of all, yourself.
No one likes to think about becoming incapacitated through illness or accident. We haven’t even started our bucket lists yet. But it’s better to plan for the worst than to have critical questions pop up in a crisis without anyone knowing your wishes. What health care treatments would you want? Which would you not want? And what trusted person should be in charge of decisions when you’re not able to make them yourself?
Most important, how will you convey these wishes to others?
Rowan Hospice and Palliative Care is helping people think through these issues by providing two workshops Wednesday — National Health care Directives Day — at the Glenn A. Kiser Hospice House, 1229 Statesville Blvd. One session runs from 7:30 to 10 a.m., the other from 2:30 to 5 p.m. The regional workshop is free, but registration is required at 704-637-7645, ext. 4100.
During the workshops, you may well “get it done today.” If not, you’ll at least have a better understanding of the options available and be ready to start a conversation with others on these sensitive subjects. Living wills and health care powers-of-attorney are unlikely to come up in conversation otherwise.
Working with Novant Health and others, Rowan Hospice has also launched a website, www.gotplansnc.org, loaded with useful information and sample forms to help get started in documenting important health care wishes.
The American Bar Association is also concerned about people without advance directives — as well as people who have directives but haven’t shared them. The ABA is touting an app called My Health Care that will store advance directives on smartphones (yours and your relatives’) and can send the documents directly to health care providers. The times, they are a-changin’.
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone,” artist Pablo Picasso once said. That goes for bucket lists and advance health care directives. Much of life — and death — is beyond our control. But you do not have to be powerless about your care in all situations. Take advantage of advanced directives. Get it done.

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