Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “The only constant in life is change.”

One of the most common life changes that individuals face is health status. It may not be possible to predict a specific change in health, but you do have the power to plan ahead for future care if it is needed.

April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), a day that exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. It is an important initiative that encourages individuals to plan ahead of a health crisis. Each person can make health decisions and put them in writing for their families and providers to follow.

Each individual should have the information that is needed to make healthcare decisions that reflect their personal values and goals. Having a plan in place that reflects an individual’s choices about how they wish to receive care in the event they are unable to speak for themselves, can give them and family members peace of mind.

Putting a Health Care Plan in Place

Honoring Choices Massachusetts (HCM) is a non-profit organization focused on the rights of every adult to direct their health care choices. HCM empowers adults to make a personal plan to receive care that honors their values and choices throughout their lives. A personal plan can include these five documents to communicate your choices to others: Health Care Proxy; Personal Directive or Living Will; Durable Power of Attorney; Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST); and Comfort Care/Do Not Resuscitate Order (CC/DNR).

Many individuals have already named a Health Care Proxy to make health decisions on their behalf in the event that they are unable to make their own. Another important aspect of planning ahead is completing a Personal Directive and then keeping loved ones informed of those decisions. A written directive states what is important to the individual, and care instructions for what they do and do not want to be followed in the future if the person is unable to communicate.

Old Colony Elder Services (OCES) is a Community Partner of HCM and has staff trained as Honoring Choices facilitators. OCES can help individuals (and families if desired) start a planning discussion, review and understand Massachusetts planning documents, and assist in creating a personal plan.

Healthy Living Programs

Living with a chronic condition such as diabetes, arthritis, COPD, or hypertension? OCES offers Healthy Living education, peer support, and Chronic Disease Self-Management Programs that can assist older adults in managing chronic conditions.

Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP)

For individuals caring for older adults, OCES’ FCSP can empower caregivers by providing resources (available through OCES along with community resources) to help with caregiving. We can also assist grandparents caring for grandchildren.

OCES encourages all individuals to take control of their health care decisions. For more information about Healthy Living, FCSP) and Honoring Choices Programs, call OCES at 508-584-1561. To learn more about Honoring Choices Massachusetts, visit