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The health care power of attorney was one of the main topics discussed at events held in Maryland and all across the country recently in honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day. Every April 16th has been devoted to the importance of advance care planning. Of all the information that was presented, one thing was heard over and over: a health care power of attorney may be the best gift that you ever give your family.

An attendee at one of the day´s events spoke of the loss of her mother. In the time leading up to her mother´s death, she and her siblings could not come to an agreement about her mother´s condition. Instead of spending the precious time that they had with their dying mother, they had to spend their time deciding whether to continue allowing modern medicine to keep their mother alive. Since that experience, she now encourages everyone to get a health care power of attorney.

Even those in charge of the healthcare systems and their employees agree about the importance of a health care power of attorney. One advanced care planning coordinator said that he had seen firsthand the difficulties families face in coming to a decision about their loved one´s care. The consensus is that it is much easier for the individual and his or her family if healthcare decisions are made before they are necessary.

In Maryland, both a living will and a health care power of attorney are available to individuals who wish to take part in advanced care planning. Together, the legal documents take the pressure off of an individual´s family when it is time for difficult decisions to be made. Making the decision now about your healthcare in the future could indeed be your greatest gift.

Source: goupstate.com, "Meeting discusses advance healthcare planning," Dustin Wyatt, April 16, 2013

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