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April 16: National Healthcare Decisions Day

posted Apr 16, 2013, 10:27 AM by BHC South LA   [ updated Apr 16, 2013, 11:27 AM by Julio Zaldivar ]

National Healthcare Decisions Day

By Maria Beltran, Organizing and Communications Fellow, Young Invincibles


Masculine honor, wisdom, strength, and pride are the essence of the Machismo culture.  In Latino communities like mine in South LA, this term embodies the definition of what a man should be and what boys should aspire to become. Unfortunately, it can also be detrimental to the health of the men in our community. 

Just recently, my grandfather fell ill due to a foot injury. Despite being in pain, his “macho” mentality kept him from seeking help. To him, seeking help from family members and doctors meant he was weak. My grandfather suffered in silence.

The injury, coupled with his diabetes, ultimately led to his condition getting far worse.  What started as a simple foot injury ended in my grandfather being in a vegetative state. My family all wished that we talked to him before things got so bad.  Because not only were we struggling to deal with the loss, but we were also lost when it came to knowing what he would want.

When I think of National Healthcare Decisions Day, I think of my grandfather.  This day is about bringing awareness to the importance of advance care planning for yourself and your loved ones.   It was started to inspire and empower individuals to make advance care giving decisions and complete things like advance directives so that our loved ones would be able to honor those requests.

So what’s an advance directive? An advance directive allows an individual to give explicit instructions stating what they would prefer should something happen to them rendering them unable to make the decision themselves.

Of course, the awareness that National Healthcare Decisions Day seeks to bring about doesn’t just affect grandfathers or members of the Latino communities, but society as a whole—including young adults.

So what can we do?

After seeing what happened to my grandfather, I for one know that I can think ahead – talk to my parents, my family and my loved ones. These are difficult decisions to think about and difficult conversations to have with our families.  But today, on National Healthcare Decisions Day, I encourage all of you to discuss these issues with your loved ones and recognize that macho or not—no one is invincible.