Camden County Surrogate Michelle Gentek-Mayer joined members of the Jefferson Hospital community for a living will signing event in the hospital courtyard. This ceremonial signing takes place one day after National Healthcare Decisions Day, a day of observation and education to raise awareness and knowledge about end-of-life planning.
Polling shows that as little as 38 percent of New Jersey residents have talked to their loved ones about their end-of-life wishes,” Gentek-Mayer said. “These conversations can be hard for an array of reasons, but not least of all because most of us don’t understand the difference between living wills, advance directives, and all of these critical planning documents.”
A living will is a document outlining an individual’s wishes for end-of-life medical treatment and care in the event that they become unable to communicate them when treatment is needed. Without these documents, families can be left struggling to ensure that their loved ones receive the type of care that would make them most comfortable.
National Healthcare Decisions Day is being observed across the state in different ways throughout the month of April. Each event is focused on teaching residents about the importance of end-of-life planning, the different documents involved, and how to approach these conversations with loved ones.
“We hope that this gets people thinking about their own planning and the conversations that they need to have with their family,” Gentek-Mayer said. “This is a difficult topic to discuss for a lot of people, but it’s also an incredibly important one. These are circumstances where once it’s time to put a plan into action, it’s already too late to create one.”