The week of April 16th through April 22nd marks the beginning of National Healthcare Decision Day. This week of awareness aims to get people to act on making decisions about their healthcare rather than wait.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement shares the mission of National Healthcare Decision Day (NHDD) is “to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. NHDD is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be.”

Do you have the capacity to make healthcare decisions? If so, now is the time to make them! National Health Care Decision Day calls for those that can have an input on the future of their health decisions to do so right now. This means taking the time to make the legal planning documents that both will give your selected decision maker the authority to act and serve as a guide for your wishes should you be unable to make decisions in the future. Specifically, you want to take three key steps:

Choose the right agent for you. In a healthcare crisis, you want to have selected a decision maker who will be there to make good decisions on your behalf. You need to select a person who can make the right choices based on your needs and wants.

Talk to your decision makers so they know what your wishes in the event of a crisis. Let them know what they are in charge of and how you want key healthcare decisions handled.

Make the legal documents. Your healthcare decision maker won’t be able to protect you if you don’t plan ahead. Take the time now to meet with your attorney and get the documents in place to protect you.

Communicating and documenting your wishes will protect your healthcare decisions and wishes in the case that you were no longer able to make them for yourself. This dramatically improves the quality of life should the time come and reduces the stress and uncertainty your decision maker will face.