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At least 15 dead as severe weather sweeps across central US; on Memorial Day, IA labor leaders honor fallen workers; Medical center installs microgrid to safeguard clinic power supply; 'Second look' laws gain traction, but MS sticks to elderly parole; Will summer heat melt New Mexicans' cravings for ice cream?

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One congressman cites ways Biden could get more support from communities of color. A new Louisiana law reclassifies two abortion medications as controlled substances. And Ohio advocates work to boost youth voter turnout.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

National Healthcare Decisions Day: Make end-of-life planning early

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Tuesday, April 16, 2024   

It's National Healthcare Decisions Day, which highlights the importance of planning for the future when it comes to medical choices. In particular, the organization Compassion & Choices is focused on end of life decisions and ensuring that people discuss advance care planning with their loved ones and health-care team.

Meagan Williams, clinical engagement and education program manager with Compassion & Choices, stressed that planning is critical.

"Talking about your end of life plans, your advance care plans, you're giving your loved ones and the people around you an opportunity to feel confident that they are following your wishes as they continue to support you through your journey," she said.

Oregon is one of ten states where medical aid in dying is legal.

Planning for health care as people age is likely to become more important in the coming decades. The number of people with Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, is projected to double from seven million today to 14 million by 2050.

Jessica Empeño, national director of clinical engagement and education with Compassion & Choices, said it can be hard to make health decisions once the disease has progressed.

"Because dementia has this characteristic where at some point an individual will lose their ability to communicate their wants, their needs, their wishes, making those decisions and completing the important legal documents in advance of that cannot be underscored enough," Empeño explained.

The dementia values and priorities tool is on Compassion & Choices' website. Empeño added this can be useful to help people communicate their wishes to loved ones.

"What the tool does is, it inspires people to think about what matters to them, what their values are in certain circumstances and changes that the disease will bring," she said.

Disclosure: Compassion & Choices contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Health Issues, Senior Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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