Whenever a patient becomes unable to make healthcare decisions on their own, they can authorize another competent person to make those decisions for them. If you’re looking to have a health care proxy, all you need to do is complete a standard health care proxy form. On the form, you note the person that you will be designating to make medical decisions for you, as well as any specific decisions that you want your healthcare proxy to be making for you. This legal document should also be signed in front of two witnesses.
Plenty of people believe that a living will and a healthcare proxy are very similar things, but there are differences between them . With a healthcare proxy, you can have another person– usually, a family member or a close friend– make decisions for your healthcare on your behalf when you’re not able to do so any longer.
In case you can no longer speak for yourself, you can give your health care proxy or healthcare agent the authority to make all medical decisions for you. This means that even if you didn’t anticipate a certain medical situation, your health care proxy can make those decisions and make sure you get treatment according to your values, wishes, and beliefs.
On the other hand, with a living will document, you can detail all of your healthcare wishes for the future. This document is addressed to any healthcare facilities, hospitals, as well as family and friends that will surround you in the future. You can use this document to specify any of your long-term care wishes or other end-of-life care wishes. With the document, any specific instructions you make will be followed by your caregivers when you’re no longer able to communicate with them.
There’s also the option to use power of attorney to authorize a person that you designate to make any financial decisions for you when you’re not able to do so any longer on your own. However a person with the power of attorney isn’t able to make any healthcare decisions. To allow someone else to make those essential healthcare decisions for you when you’re not able to do so anymore, you have to complete the healthcare proxy form.
Additionally, the healthcare proxy will only become effective when you’re no longer able to make decisions on your own, and this state is identified for a healthcare provider by a physician. Up until that point, you’ll be in charge of your own healthcare decisions . And while you’re still competent, you can always revoke your health care proxy and assign a new person for that position.
You don’t have to be diagnosed with a terminal illness to be able to designate a healthcare proxy that will be making decisions on your behalf. Most of the time, your healthcare proxy can make healthcare decisions when you are unable to communicate due to a temporary or a permanent injury, or illness, or if you are otherwise incapacitated.
Your healthcare proxy might also have access to your health records or any other necessary information, depending on what you allow or permit them to have. You can always place certain restrictions on what your healthcare proxy can see or do, and you should make sure to include these things in the healthcare proxy form.
When appointing a healthcare proxy, you should make sure it’s a person you trust. This person should honor your wishes and be assertive in executing them according to your requests in the healthcare proxy form. This person should be aware of your personal opinions on illness, health, as well as death.
They should know your preferences regarding medical treatments such as long-term care, life-sustaining care, and other treatments you might need if you’re unconscious. And they should also know your religious beliefs as well as your opinions about caregivers, healthcare institutions, and healthcare providers in general.
Furthermore, most of the time healthcare proxy forms can let you name a second person as a backup healthcare proxy if the primary person isn’t able to fulfill their obligations. If possible it’s a good idea to name a secondary person in the form.
You also don’t have to name a healthcare proxy if you’ve already created a living will that will notify your family, friends, and healthcare providers about your long-term care preferences. However, you should know that if you haven’t appointed a healthcare proxy, plenty of state laws determine who would be making medical decisions on your behalf.
When you do name a healthcare proxy, you can easily avoid any disagreement or other issues between your friends or loved ones over your care if there is a person who already knows your wishes and can speak for you.
If you named the healthcare proxy, it can also help you feel more confident in your decisions even when you’re no longer able to speak for yourself, because then someone you trust will be doing the speaking for you and helping you get the treatment that you want.
Any of your choices about medical care, which includes things such as medicine, medical tests, or surgery
Requesting or declining treatments for life support
Any choices about your pain management, including permission or refusal of procedures or medications
Admissions to assisted living facilities, hospice, hospitals, or nursing homes
The rights to access, see and approve the release of your medical records
Choosing where you can get medical treatment, including the right to moving you to a different facility, hospital, or a different state altogether
The rights to apply to various programs or even insurance benefits for you, such as Medicare, or Medicaid
Taking legal actions on your behalf to be able to advocate for your rights and wishes regarding your health care
The tasks that your health care proxy will be doing largely depend on your health care situation and your health care proxy form. However, in general, the health care proxy will be in charge of following the instructions in your living will and making sure that you get the types of treatment and care that you wanted while avoiding the ones that you didn’t want.
Before you fill out the health care proxy form, it’s always a good idea to have an open and transparent conversation with the first person you’ll be assigning as your health care proxy. This way, this person will get a great understanding of all your desires and beliefs about how you’d like to be treated as well as all the types of care you’ll be looking to receive when the time comes.
Even if you don’t anticipate every type of health care situation you’ll encounter in the future, with this conversation, your primary health care proxy will have a better idea of what to get you in terms of treatments and care, no matter what happens.
Most of the time, people tend to choose a family member as their healthcare proxy, but you can also select someone else. It’s perfectly fine if you’d like someone else as your healthcare proxy instead of a family member or a friend– just make sure you let your family know beforehand who your healthcare proxy is going to be. Even if the situation creates tension with your family members, it’s still better to inform everyone before a medical crisis happens so they can get used to the idea.
There are several things that you need to do with your healthcare proxy before anything happens, and the first step is to ask that person if they’re willing to take on that role in the first place. You should also answer any questions they might have, and make it clear they can decline the position at any point in the process.
You should make sure that your healthcare proxy understands their tasks and responsibilities when you’re no longer able to make healthcare decisions on your own. This person should also deeply understand your choices and wishes beforehand so that they have confidence and a stronger foundation when the time comes to make decisions for you. They should know which things are most important to you so they can make good decisions in accordance with those things in the future.
Aside from caring for you, this person should be a strong decision-maker who won’t be pressured by other people such as family members or even healthcare professionals. What information does the healthcare proxy need?
Typically, they should have access to your medical records, and your health care directive. With these things, they’ll be able to follow any advance directives from you, from things such as your desires about resuscitation to feeding tubes, and other life-sustaining treatments or procedures.