Your health care agent or proxy is the person you choose to make important decisions for you if you are too sick to think clearly or if you are not able to communicate your wishes to your doctor and other medical staff. Your health care agent will have a serious responsibility for your care. It is very important that you choose someone who knows you well and who is willing to stand up for your wishes.
In order for your agent to carry out this responsibility, you need to talk to your agent to be sure he or she knows what you want to have done in a variety of medical situations. Here are some suggestions for things you should discuss:
• What decisions are indicated in your Living Will?
A living will is a document you create to specify the care you want to receive. Make sure your agent has a copy of your living will and that he or she understands what you mean by the choices you make in the document. As much as you can, help your agent understand what criteria would make it appropriate for him to stop medical treatment or to insist that treatment should continue.
• Who should be consulted in making your decisions?
If you have family members or close friends that you want to have included in the decision process, make sure your agent knows who they are. Also make sure your friends and family know who your agent is and that your agent has the final say in making the decision if the others don’t agree.
• How much help would you want if you are not able to take care of yourself?
Share with your agent what conditions would lead you to want to be moved into an assisted living facility. Let him know if there is a facility that you have already chosen as one you would like to live in if needed.
• Does your agent have permission to read your medical files?
If the answer is yes, make sure this permission is clearly noted in your living will.
• Are you willing to be relocated?