Employers are beginning to understand the value and benefits of providing wellness activities such as: smoking cessation, weight loss, and motivation to exercise for their employees.  There is another option to consider for your wellness program – advanced directives.

What are advanced directives? Advance directives are legal documents that express your health care wishes should you be unable to make decisions for yourself due to illness or injury. The most commonly used directives are: Living Wills and Powers of Attorney for Health Care. What do those documents have to do with worksite wellness?

What is more stressful than assisting a loved one with a life threatening illness? Issues of end-of-life care often result in increased anxiety and loss of productivity in the workplace.  Making information and advance directive documents available to your employees makes good sense. Employees and their families are at risk for heart attacks, cancer, and unexpected disability. Educating them on the benefit of talking about these issues when they are not in crisis is logical. Providing the tools to make these difficult decisions before they are needed will produce benefits down the road. Show your employees you care about them and their families by educating them on what can become critically important in their lives. There are financial issues to be considered. What if that person didn’t want to be on life support, but no one ever asked him/her? Long term care exceeds $40,000 to $50,000 per month for a patient on a ventilator. Catastrophic accidents and/or long term care will seriously impact your benefit plan costs.

Only 20-30% of Americans have these documents. Is advanced care planning a wellness program? Yes, it empowers your employees to make choices about their health decisions. By providing the documents in the workplace you can make it easier for them to consider their options before it is necessary and help them have peace of mind during extremely difficult times.

For free legal documents, go to www.discussdirectives.com

Lisa Newburger, L.I.S.W.S. Health and Wellness Educator