A health care proxy is a simple legal document that allows you to name the person you would like to make health care decisions for you if you are unable.
You should take care in choosing a person who is adept at decision-making. Also consider that this person will need to make life-or-death decisions for you, based on your expressed wishes. Who in your life is capable and will honor your wishes?
Health situations where you might need a heath care proxy
Creating a healthcare proxy is the opportunity to think about what you want done in certain cases. You can clarify which course of action should be taken in which cases and which should not. Some questions to consider and answer are:
- If you are seriously injured and unconscious after a car accident, would you want heroic measures to be taken to save your life?
- What would you want done if you are terminally ill and not expected to recover?
- How would you like to be cared for if you suffered severe, irreversible brain damage?
- How long would you want to be left in a coma if you are not expected to improve?
- Do you wish to be on life support, such as a respirator or a feeding tube?
- What are your feelings about being dependent on other people?
Another issue to consider is that if you become incapacitated by a disease such as Alzheimer’s then a health care proxy would eliminate the need for your family to have to petition a court for guardianship.
One frequent misconception about health care directives is that you must be older to have one. The truth is that a health care directive which names a proxy is useful to any adult. In fact, considering that younger people can survive vastly longer than elderly people in a comatose state or on a ventilator due to advances in technology, it may be even more important for younger adults to create such a directive.