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Why Should I Put My Future Health Care Wishes in Writing?

Dear Marci,

Some of my friends were chatting about health care directives and future health care wishes. Is this really important to do right now? I'm in good health.

Rafael (Garden City, Utah)

Dear Rafael,


It’s understandable to feel that you don’t need to think about this topic when you’re in good health! You should know, however, that putting your future health care wishes in writing can be very helpful to your family members, if you were to suddenly find yourself in a position where you can’t make health care decisions for yourself due to being incapacitated by injury or illness.

Every state has different rules about who makes decisions about your treatment if you are physically unable to do so. In many cases, the decision-making is left in the hands of your health care providers, unless you’ve assigned someone as your legal representative in advance.

If medical decisions are casually left up to your family, it can be difficult and time-consuming for them to agree on different treatment options. It can also be costly for them to get the legal right to make medical decisions for you, and they may also disagree on who should make these decisions for you. Having a plan with your wishes written out ahead of time can help to avoid confusion and disagreements, and it ensures your wishes are honored if you’re unable to speak for yourself!

Start by talking to your family about your wishes. When you’re ready, completing an advance directive is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family to ensure your healthcare wishes are met.

Good luck!


Health Tip

For the last 75 years, May has been observed as National Mental Health Month. 1 in 5 U.S. adults experiences mental health illness every year, and less than half of them get help. That means that many of our friends and family members are likely living with a mental health challenge without us knowing it. The following are common signs you can look out for:

  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy often

  • Sudden increased hunger or lack of appetite

  • Experiencing delusions or hallucinations

  • Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs

  • Thinking about suicide

  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress

  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).


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