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Advocates Promote End-of-Life Plannning

National Healthcare Decisions Day with Dolores Huerta in English
 By Suzanne Potter - Producer, Contact
April 16, 2021

LOS ANGELES - Today, April 16, is the 8th annual National Healthcare Decisions Day - a day where health-care advocates encourage everyone to think about the kind of health care they'd want at the end of life.

Now, civil-rights icon Dolores Huerta is speaking out in a pair of videos in English and Spanish - asking people to consider what they'd want if, say, they develop severe dementia and can no longer make health-care decisions.

"Who will speak for us in case we get a life-threatening illness and cannot communicate our wishes for our end-of-life care?" asked Huerta.

Some people might want to go into hospice, while others would want the hospital to exhaust all life-saving measures.

The group Compassion & Choices has developed an online toolkit in both languages that helps people write down an advance directive, name someone as a health-care proxy or delegate power of attorney.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans say talking about end-of-life wishes is important, but only 56% actually have talked to their loved ones about it - according to a new nationwide study by Vitas Healthcare. Huerta advised people to have the conversation, early and often.

"This is a great opportunity for us to reach out to our loved ones and start having those difficult but necessary conversations about advance-care planning," said Huerta.

In the same study, one in five Americans say they weren't prepared to make critical end-of-life decisions when a family member got very sick or even died during the pandemic.

A survey from the University of Michigan found that the majority of Americans have not completed a durable power of attorney or an advance directive.

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