Are you ready for National Healthcare Decisions Day?

National Healthcare Decisions Day kicks off today, with the theme “It always seems too early, until it’s too late.” Throughout the week the campaign will bring awareness to the importance of advance care planning, encouraging individuals to make a priority of planning for their future health care decisions before time runs out.

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 42 percent of Americans have seen a relative or friend suffer from a terminal illness or coma within the last five years. That may be a factor in why a majority of the public supports laws that give patients the right to decide their own medical decisions. Despite this high level of support, there is still a need for education and awareness on the important subject of advance directives. Here’s how YOU can take part in this weeklong event:

Sunday, April 16

Prepare: Get resources together

Monday, April 17

Start with Yourself: Think about your own health care decisions

Tuesday, April 18

Family/Friends/Loved Ones: Discuss your wishes with others (and learn their wishes)

Wednesday, April 19

Spread the Word: Tell others that you’ve engaged in advance care planning and encourage them to do the same

Thursday, April 20

Facilities Focus: Health care providers promote advance care planning

Friday, April 21

Professionals Preparedness: A day to focus on professionals (health care, clergy, legal, and others) ensuring that they understand and can promote advance care planning

Saturday, April 22

Reflection and Readiness: Consider what worked well for National Healthcare Decisions Day, and file your advance care plans, and share them so they’ll be available if needed