A health care proxy or durable power of attorney is a person chosen by you to make your medical decisions in the event you are unable to do so.
Generally, you would ask a family member or trusted friend to represent your preferences when you can no longer do so. It is important to ask this individual if they are willing to make medical decisions for you when you are no longer able.
Select an individual that will not abuse the power you are granting them and knows you and your values. You need to feel comfortable that should your health care proxy be called upon, they would be willing to honor your wishes
Communicating your wishes through an advanced directive is vital to making your needs known. You should consider asking your health care proxy if they will they be able to make decisions for you that you want. Even if they this is not what they would choose for themselves. Will they be willing to ask the doctor for more information if they do not understand a treatment? Will they be able to make a medical decision and change it later if the proposed treatment is not having the anticipated results?
A health proxy may have to exercise judgment in the event of a medical decision for which the patient’s wishes are not known. You may even consider asking your health care proxy to accompany you on a few visits to the doctors so that they may come to understand your health care wishes and meet your providers. That is why it so important to communicate and discuss advanced directives openly and honestly with your proxy. If you have not you need to read about
The durable power of attorney for health care is the legal document that names a patient’s health care proxy. Once written, it should be signed, dated, witnessed, notarized, copied, distributed, and incorporated into the patient’s medical record.
You should keep the original in a safe place and make multiple copies for you physicians. You will be required to provide one each and every time you are admitted to the hospital or an alternative healthcare setting.
Remember, this proxy only takes effect should you be unable to communicate your wishes concerning treatment. If you become able to express your wishes at any time, and you are mentally competent, the health care proxy will no longer be in effect.
For End of Life Planning information click here
Here is help on How To Talk to Your Health Care Provider about Advanced Directives
Questions to Ask Your Doctor When You Are Diagnosed with a Chronic Illness
You will also want to consider appointing someone to manage your financial affairs if you cannot.
This is called a durable power of attorney for finances, and is a separate legal document from the durable power of attorney for health care. You may choose the same person or someone different from their health care proxy to act as their agent in financial matters. Again, it is important that you choose someone that will not take advantage of the power you are granting them.
A will is important so that you can give instructions about distribution of your money and property after your death. You can name a trusted family member, friend, or professional to handle their personal affairs (also known as an Executor). It is advisable to seek the expert advice of an attorney in drawing up a will so that the decisions made about taxes, beneficiaries, and asset distribution will be legally binding. This process can relieve a patient’s family and friends of an enormous burden in case of disputes or questions about allocation of the patient’s assets.
Caregiver Relief will keep you abreast of legal issues that are important to your health and well being.