Individuals can prepare for potential incapacity that would render them unable to make medical decisions by completing an advanced health care directive. This form allows adults to make certain health-related decisions in advance and appointing someone to make health care decisions on their behalf, if necessary.
Choosing a health care representative
Your health care representative can be anyone who is 18 years of age or older whom you trust to make decisions regarding your medical care and end-of-life care if you are incapacitated. You may also choose an alternative representative if the first one cannot step in or choose two representatives to work together.
Your representative should be someone you trust to have access to your medical information who is willing to honor your wishes and act in your best interest.
Your health care representative can decide:
- Whether you will receive treatment and when to start/stop treatment.
- Which doctors and health care workers will be involved in your care.
- Which hospital, clinic, or nursing home will provide you with care.
- Which medical tests and procedures you will receive.
- Which life support measures will be taken, if any (e.g., ventilator or feeding tube).
If you are towards the end of your life, your representative can decide:
- Where you will pass away (e.g., home, or medical facility).
- Whether you will be buried/cremated.
- Whether your organs will be donated after your pass away.
You can decide exactly how much power your representative will have. For example, you may choose to give your representative full freedom to veer away from your medical wishes, if the doctors think that another choice is best for you. You may also choose to limit their power to change your medical decisions or forbid them from ever going against your wishes, even if doctors advise them to do so.
It is important that you make sure your advance directive is detailed enough for you to continue to have a say in your medical care.