Choosing a power of attorney is a very crucial healthcare decision. There are many terms that identify the power of attorneys, such as healthcare representative, health care proxy, or patient advocate. No matter what name you call them by, a power of attorney will be the person making the decisions related to your health in the event that you are unable to decide for yourself.
Many people derive peace of mind when they can appoint someone to make healthcare and medical decisions for them when they are incapacitated. Some individuals can appoint such a power of attorney before they head for surgery or after they receive a diagnosis. The truth is, you can designate your power of attorney at any given time by just instructing your attorney to draw up the paperwork. You can even designate the time from when the power of attorney will start to be effective.
The Difference Between a Healthcare Proxy and a Power of Attorney
There are many jurisdictions in the US that allow a healthcare proxy to take the decision. You can choose a loved one to delegate only the medical decision-making part for you. If you are looking to delegate to a healthcare proxy, you will need two witnesses and to fill out a document in a hospital setting. The presence of a lawyer is not required for this. Just keep in mind that if you assign a power of attorney, it will have more formal financial and legal implications.
Picking Your Power of Attorney
The most usual choices for being a power of attorney are a relative, a spouse, or a very close friend. These are not mandatory, however, as you can pick anyone you want to be your power of attorney. What you need to keep in mind while choosing your power of attorney is to pick someone who will best be able to reflect your wishes while making decisions rather than someone who is closest to you. This should be a person with whom you will be comfortable in sharing your healthcare details.
This person must be willing to follow through with the decision-making as you wanted, even if they don’t agree with everything you want. You need to be able to identify that the person will not be a good choice if you feel pressured by them to change your opinions. You will need to choose someone else if you see that the person is not respecting your wishes.
What Characteristics Should You Seek?
The power of attorney you choose should have a little experience in the area of handling medical affairs as they will be dealing with your medical issues. So you need to consider the following characteristics while making your choice as it will enable you to pick the most eligible person.
Someone You Can Trust
When choosing a power of attorney, you need to check the values and character of the person by reviewing if they can be trusted with such an important responsibility. They need to be able to follow through with the tasks of being the power of attorney by keeping your wishes intact. The power of attorney will speak on your behalf so you need to be able to trust this person to do just that. The decisions this person will make will have life-changing impacts on your life, so it is imperative that you trust the person explicitly.
Someone Who Understands Medical Processes
When you select someone to be your power of attorney, you need to choose someone who understands how medical processes work. This is because the power of attorney will be charged to make the decisions for healthcare on your behalf. This doesn’t really mean that you have to appoint a doctor as your power of attorney, just someone who will know what questions to ask, especially about what tests to perform, the prognosis, and the value of the medical intervention.
This person should be knowledgeable enough to be able to challenge treatment options or suggestions that are not according to your wishes. This person should also be able to research your condition and be knowledgeable about your healthcare issues as much as possible.
Someone Who Can Serve Willingly
Not everyone is cut out to be a power of attorney as this task is stressful and demands a great deal of responsibility. So be sure to have an open talk with the person you are considering. They should be able to be confident that they can carry out the tasks. The person should be honest and forthright with you. You don’t want them to commit to you and then not be able to deliver when required.
Someone Living Nearby
Where your potential power of attorney lives is an important consideration. They need to be located close to where you live or the care center or hospital of your preference. In case of an emergency, the power of attorney will be required to get to the hospital or care center really quickly. This is why you need to choose someone who lives nearby.
Someone Who Can Be Assertive
Emotions can run high during an emergency healthcare situation. This makes the job of a power of attorney difficult on some occasions. This is why you need to consider how the person communicates; is it active or passive? They need to be assertive people, holding their ground when the pressure increases. A durable power of attorney will not back down when it comes to standing up for your wishes despite all the pressure from your friends and members of your family. The person will also need to be assertive and confident while communicating your wishes without second-guessing their actions.
Make sure you are confident about the person you are choosing for your power of attorney. A lot depends on the decisions this person makes on your behalf, especially at a time when you can not really stand up for yourself. Hopefully, the points in this article have helped you to choose the right power of attorney for your needs.