Fifth Anniversary of Terri Schiavo's Death: Wear a White Ribbon to Raise Awareness of Advance Care Planning

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 Lifestyle News
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National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Reminds People, "It's About How You LIVE"

ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Five years ago national attention was riveted as the husband and parents of Terri Schiavo waged a very public legal battle regarding who had authority to determine if she would have wanted artificial means to prolong her life. While many Americans learned about the importance of planning for critical healthcare decisions before a crisis, two-thirds of the public have not completed an advance directive.

As the fifth anniversary of Ms. Schiavo's death approaches on March 31, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is encouraging all Americans to wear a white ribbon to increase awareness of advance care planning. The ribbon also reminds people of the importance of both documenting wishes by completing an advance directive, and talking with their loved ones about their care decisions before a medical crisis.

An individual's preferences for the kind of medical care they would or would not want are very personal and important decisions. Advance care planning lets you decide the kind of healthcare you want at the end of your life--and helps you make your wishes known.

"It doesn't matter whether you want every medical intervention available up until the day you die, or whether you want to spend the final period of your life receiving what many call 'comfort care,'--it should be your decision," said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO.

"Another critical piece of advance care planning includes talking about your decisions with your loved ones, healthcare providers, clergy, and others important to you," Schumacher added.

People are occasionally confused by the terms associated with advance care planning. One aspect of an advance directive, called a living will, lets you explain the care you would want. An advance directive also includes a healthcare power-of-attorney, which enables you to appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf should you not be able to speak for yourself.

The advance care planning ribbon was created by NHPCO's consumer-engagement program, Caring Connections, to help people focus on the message: "It's About How You LIVE." The vision of the LIVE campaign is to motivate people to take at least one step along a continuum of learning, implementing, voicing and engaging in end-of-life issues before a crisis arises. Ribbon campaign materials are available online at

Two weeks after this anniversary, annual National Healthcare Decisions Day will be observed in communities across the country. This national day of awareness, held on April 16 every year, is promoted by national, state, and local organizations including healthcare providers, advocacy groups, attorneys, and other organizations. Learn more about this day of outreach at

More information about advance care planning is available at or by calling the HelpLine at 1-800-658-8898.

SOURCE National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

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