Who will make your health care decisions for you when you can’t?

Your health care decisions are important matters that can have a big impact on your final days. When it comes time to make those decisions, there is a chance that you won’t be able to make them on your own. This is often the case if your mind isn’t what it used to be.

If this occurs, you need to have someone ready to make decisions for you. This person needs to be able to make the decisions that you would want made. It might be difficult for you to determine who you want to decide these important matters, as your close family members might understandably want to do whatever they can to save your life.

How can you appoint a person to handle these decisions?

The person who you want to make these decisions on your behalf should be given power of attorney for health care. This gives them the power to make the choices for you if you become incapacitated. As long as you can make decisions for yourself, the power of attorney won’t be in effect and you will be able to make decisions for yourself.

Who knows what you want?

When you have decided who will best represent your wishes, you must notify the person of the type of care and resuscitative efforts that you want as you approach the end of life. This is important because the person has to be able to stand up for you when you the time comes. It is difficult to say for certain who is going to be able to do this when they are dealing with the emotional turmoil that will come with your declining health. You should have a frank discussion with the person who you name as your health care power of attorney so that you are sure that they know what you want.

What’s in your living will?

Your living will is a document that the medical team who cares for you will refer to when questions about your care come up. This document should have the same information you shared with your power of attorney designee. Your health care proxy will refer to that document when carrying out your wishes.

What information do I need to relay?

You need to clarify what types of care you are willing to accept and what care you don’t want. In some cases, such as when you don’t want to be resuscitated, you might need to fill out different forms, such as a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. If you do this, you need to make sure that you understand when it will go into effect.

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