Elderly father and middle-age son talking in the house

Give the Gift Loved Ones Give to Each Other

Glacial Ridge Health System invites you to start taking steps in your advance care planning. National Healthcare Decisions Day takes place on April 16 each year, the day after tax day. As Benjamin Franklin stated, “In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” This is a great time to start thinking about your personal Health Care Directive. And a time to review it each year.


The first step in advance care planning involves a lot of thought and consideration. It is a process to prepare for when you cannot make your own medical decisions. Information is available to help you learn about different options in various aspects of healthcare. Appointing a healthcare power of attorney is one of the things to consider because that person will make decisions on your behalf when you can no longer.

Start by thinking about what is most important to you. What are your values, beliefs, and goals for your future healthcare? Consider a time when your health status may change. Kelly Danter, RN and Glacial Ridge Hospital Discharge Planner commented, “It’s not fun to think about, but it is something that everyone will face at one point, either with plans in place or without. If you can put down some of your basic thoughts or beliefs, your family will feel better about making hard decisions in a crisis. Do them the favor of helping them out at that difficult time.”

Complete the Form

This action step includes filling out the Health Care Directive, also called a Living Will. After proper consideration, this step should take a small amount of time. You will need phone numbers and addresses for your healthcare agent and alternate healthcare agent. Kelly Danter and Jamie Boelke, the RN discharge planners at Glacial Ridge Hospital, are available to answer questions or assist in filling out the form. The Health Care Directive is a legal document signed by you and two witnesses or a Notary Public.


Communicate your healthcare wishes with your chosen healthcare agent and other loved ones. Sharing your wishes now will give you a voice in the future, giving you and your family peace of mind. Your family and healthcare team can’t do what you want if they don’t know what that is.

Some people choose to give a copy of the healthcare directive to other family members and friends who are not the healthcare agent selected but may be involved in your care in the future. This helps avoid surprises later on. Your primary care provider should also receive a copy. If there are updates, provide a copy of the new directive to everyone who has a copy of the previous document.

Commonly Asked Questions:

Do I need a lawyer? You do not need a lawyer to complete a Health Care Directive. If you are at least 18 years old, can understand and communicate your wishes, and can complete the form, you can have a Health Care Directive.

When do I need to update my Health Care Directive? It is recommended the healthcare wishes be reviewed every time you have a physical exam or whenever any one of these “Five D’s” occur:

  1. Decade – when you start each new decade of life
  2. Death – when you experience the death of a loved one
  3. Divorce – when you experience a major family change, such as divorce
  4. Diagnosis – when you are diagnosed with a serious health condition
  5. Decline – when you experience a significant decline or deterioration of an existing health condition, especially when you are unable to live on your own.

Where should I keep my completed Health Care Directive? Keep the original document for yourself in a safe place that can be easily found.

Where can I find a Health Care Directive Form? Health Care Directive packets are available throughout the year at Glenwood Medical Center, Starbuck Medical Center, Brooten Medical Center, and Glacial Ridge Hospital.

The Health Care Directive limits confusion and helps everyone prepare for the unexpected. Plan ahead while you are able.