Advance directives – who will speak for you if you are unable?

Kansas City HospiceBy David Wiley, President & CEO, Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care

National Healthcare Decisions Day is every April 16 to remind us about advance planning. Because it’s the day after tax day, it’s easy to remember!

“I have an Advance Directive not because I have a serious illness, but because I have a family.” — Ira Byock, MD

Advance planning means making decisions about the future and putting in writing those wishes. So, be prepared in case something happens and you can’t speak for yourself. Advance planning can include:

  • Wishes for medical care during serious illness
  • Wishes for continuing or stopping medical treatments at the end of life
  • Who will speak for you if you are in an accident or too ill to talk about wishes
  • Sharing personal values with loved ones
  • Planning for your estate and making a will

These decisions are the right of every person. They are based on personal values, preferences and discussions with loved ones. So, if you or your loved one is dealing with a serious illness, you can help! That’s why you need to encourage everyone in your family to make these decisions. But, don’t forget, put them in writing!

Recently, Steve Kuker of Senior Care Live visited with David Wiley, President and CEO of Kansas City Hospice and Palliative Care.  They discussed National Healthcare Decision Day and provided helpful resources regarding where you can get one. 

Read more about Advance Planning here on our website, including

  • Deciding about treatments
  • Communicating End-of-Life Wishes
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions (DPOA)
  • Sharing your values
  • Estate planning and wills

The Center for Practical Bioethics offers a wonderful resource, Caring Conversations®. We have copies available for our families and physician offices. So, just ask your hospice team or community liaison! Online, it’s available in English and en español.

Other Resources

American Bar Association – Consumer’s Toolkit for Health Care Advance Planning

National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization – Are You Traveling Without a Map? A Layperson’s Guide to Advance Care Planning

National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization – Download Your State’s Advance Directives

The Conversation Project


The mission of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by life-limiting illness or by grief. And, our vision: each person in our community is valued from life through death and each family is supported in their grief.

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