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Elder Planning Isn't Just For The Elderly

Tips for choosing a medical power of attorney

Without warning, serious illnesses or injuries may cause life-threatening conditions. Should such situations leave people unable to make decisions or speak for themselves, the responsibility of making decisions on their behalf may fall to a family member or patient advocate. Naming a health care proxy, however, allows people to choose who will make lifesaving or end-of-life care decisions on their behalf.

Taking these tips into consideration when choosing a health care proxy may help people select the right representatives to take on this responsibility for them.

Meeting the requirements

According to the New York Department of Health, when naming a health care proxy, people may choose any adult aged 18-years or older. This may include family members, close friends or other acquaintances. With few exceptions, people may not name hospital, nursing home or mental hygiene facility staff if admitted to or residing in such facilities. People may choose doctors to act as their health care proxies, however, physicians chosen to act as their agents may not also serve as their attending doctors.

Willing to discuss end-of-life-decisions

According to, health care proxies may make end-of-life decisions or other important medical care choices. Therefore, people may benefit from choosing someone to serve in this role who will talk with them about their wishes, values and preferences.

Adhering to the principals’ wishes

Even close family members may not share the same beliefs when it comes to health and palliative care. When choosing a health care proxy, people may select agents who have the same values or the ability to respect their preferences, despite their differences in beliefs. Doing so may help make certain they can trust their named proxies to make decisions that adhere to their preferences and value systems.

A sudden serious illness or injury may leave otherwise young, healthy people unable to make decisions, speak or care for themselves. Having someone to make decisions on their behalf may help ensure they receive the treatment and care they would choose for themselves.


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