Answers to 5 Do or Die Questions About Healthcare Powers of Attorney – Part I

We never know when we need to have others make decisions for us.  But, when we do, it is best to have gotten the answers to how to do it and who should do this for us in advance.  Planning is just not possible if you are unconscious!  So, assuming we are all conscious here…what do we need to know about healthcare powers of attorney to help us take control of our lives if they get out of our control?

1) What is a power of attorney for health care?

A power of attorney for health care, otherwise known as a durable power of attorney for healthcare, is a legal document which any doctor or emergency response personnel is required to follow when taking care of you.  This document gives your medical team the directions that you would give if you were conscious and able to speak for yourself

2) What kind of care do I want under what circumstances?

Do you want to be resuscitated?  Do you want a feeding tube, do I you want hydration (water), do you want pain relief and do you want it even if it could reduce your life span?

Do I want the same decisions to be made if I am not likely to live due to a disease as if I am chronically ill but likely to live a long time with certain care?  Do I want transfusions?   These and many more questions will be asked of you when you have a power of attorney drafted.  Considerations that go into these decisions involve religious views, financial considerations, reactions to pain, and just how you want to live your life.  It does not get any more personal than this.

3) Who should I choose to make sure my directions are followed when I cannot speak for myself?

These are life and death decisions.  Choose wisely.  Ideally you want to choose someone who loves you and knows you well but is willing to put your wishes ahead of their own even under pressure.  No power of attorney can spell out every circumstance that life can present to you.  Will the holder of this power know you well enough to apply your stated decisions and make the right decision if the situation is in that grey area?

Stay tuned for Part II!  Good Health to You!
Marcella Downing