Last week we discussed how to insure your loved one to get the best care in a nursing home, by preparing for the Comprehensive Care Plan.
Today I want to discuss an important document that insures your loved one gets the care s/he wants even if s/he is not conscious or cognitively alert. This is the Health Care Proxy
A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone you trust to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself.
Some states may refer to this document by another name, such as Durable Power of Attorney or Power of Attorney for Health Care. Regardless of the title, these documents allow a patient’s wishes to be followed even when s/he is incapable of communicating them.
When a person is no longer able to voice his/her wishes and there is no documented decision maker, some states will defer to the next of kin. Other states will require that a guardian is appointed. Often a family member will seek guardianship, but sometimes the court will appoint someone else. This person may be a total stranger. So, you can see that it is very important to talk with people you trust and make sure they understand your wants before it is necessary to make crucial decisions.
4 Secrets About Health Care Proxies/Power of Attorney Documents
Some people are frightened away from signing a health care proxy because they assume it will be too complicated. That is not true. Here are some facts you should know about the health care proxy:
Secret #1: You do not need a lawyer to assign a person to be your proxy. You can do it anyplace and any time. All you need are two people over the age of 18 to witness your signature.
Secret #2: Your agent does not need to be a family member. If you are concerned that your son or daughter does not agree with your wishes, don’t make her/him your agent. Find a friend or a professional you trust to be your agent.
Secret #3: You may cancel the authority given to your agent by telling him/her or your health care provider orally or in writing. This means that if you no longer feel your agent has your best interest in mind, you can void the agreement.
Secret #4: You can limit or broaden the power of your agent. If you never want to be on feeding tubes no matter what, this is where you can state it. If there are certain treatments you don’t want to receive, like dialysis or life support, state it here.
Next week I will explain other important facts about the Health Care Proxy