Most people haven’t ever thought about who would make health care decisions for them if they were unable to do so themselves. This can lead to your loved ones and medical care team being placed in a difficult position if you’re incapacitated. Fortunately, you can rectify the situation by establishing a health care power of attorney.
The person who you name as your health care power of attorney can legally make decisions about every aspect of your medical care. This goes into effect when you’re considered medically and legally incapacitated, which means you aren’t able to relay your decisions or that you don’t have the capacity to understand the effects of the options you have.
When you think about who to name as the health care power of attorney, remember that you need someone who knows you well enough to make the decisions you’d want made. They can’t use this power in a self-serving manner by making decisions that aren’t consistent with what you’d want if you were able to speak up on your own.
On top of naming the power of attorney, you also have the ability to create a living will or advance directive. This is a written set of instructions for the medical team that’s taking care of you. You can include special instructions and outline your wishes in this document.
One special consideration to think about is that if you don’t want to be resuscitated, you need to fill out a specific order that will prevent the hospital from using specific life-extending measures. Remember, this form doesn’t apply to paramedics who are called to assist you at a location other than the hospital.
While it isn’t really a pleasant process, getting all of this together can greatly help your loved ones if you can’t make these decisions yourself.