In my last blog I discussed the importance of making formalized end-of-life decisions regardless of how uncomfortable it may be to think about let alone discuss those decisions with others. As important as making your decisions, it is equally if not more important to choose who will act as your proxy; who will advocate for you; who will make the decisions you want.
Often times a person agrees to act as a healthcare agent because they are the individual’s spouse, child or close friend; other times you may agree thinking if you don’t, who will. But what are you really getting yourself into?
As the health care agent, you can make decisions and take actions as the patient would if he or she were able. This includes obtaining the same medical information, consulting with the medical team, and consenting to or refusing medical tests or treatments.
While these decisions may be difficult to make in a crisis, you can help yourself now. Spend time learning about what the person would want if he or she becomes seriously ill; what kinds of treatment or lack of treatment is consistent with their personal values, preferences and religious beliefs. Then when there is a medical crisis, you are equipped to make critical decisions including determining the medical facts, considering the options available, bearing in mind how the patient would decide if able and lastly, if you are unsure, acting in the way that is in the patient’s best interest.
To guide you in acting as a healthcare agent and making medical decisions for someone else, you may consult https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/law_aging/2011_aging_bk_proxy_guide_gen.authcheckdam.pdf