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A health care proxy is a legal term it’s smart to understand. Here’s what it means.
A health care proxy is a legal document that allows you to appoint another person as your proxy or agent to make health care decisions for you if are unable to decide for yourself. A health care proxy is also referred to as a durable power of attorney for health care, a medical power of attorney, or an appointment of health care agent.
One thing senior citizens fear most is the idea that other people may control their life and take important decisions out of their hands. The value of a health care proxy is that it allows you to determine who makes medical decisions that will be in line with the decisions you would make for yourself if you were able. These decisions include whether you should be given artificial nutrition, hydration, or any other measures designed to prolong life.
You do not have to be terminally ill for a health care proxy to go into effect. For example, if you have a heart attack, stroke, car accident, or some other kind of incident from which you will recover, your proxy can speak on your behalf during your treatment and recovery. Your agent will have the flexibility to access your medical records and to make most treatment decisions during this time. You can restrict their power by specifically stating limits in the health care proxy document. For example, you can add to the proxy that your agent is or isn’t allowed to determine whether heroic measures should be taken to save you if your heart stops.
Ideally, your health care proxy will possess the following characteristics:
In addition, your proxy should be someone you trust and who knows you well, will be assertive, and will honor your wishes.
There are at least four good reasons for putting a health care proxy in place:
The discussion you have with your health care proxy regarding your wishes may be one of the most important discussions of your life. Here are a few things you should discuss: