If you are working on long-term care planning for yourself in the future, then one of the things that you should make sure you have a health care proxy. While choosing a nursing home and setting up a way to pay for your long-term expenses is important, having a health care proxy will protect you if you can’t make decisions on your own or if you need someone to make a tough medical choice when you’re impaired or unable to speak.
A health care proxy is a type of advance medical directive. This legal document sets up another person as your agent (or proxy) to make health-related decisions on your behalf if you cannot make your own wishes known.
Who can you choose for your health care proxy?
To start with, you need to choose someone who is at least 18 years old in most cases. On top of that, you’ll want to select someone who would advocate for your health and make the best decisions for you when you can’t make them yourself.
You may need to select someone who understands a medical condition that you have. For example, if you have Alzheimer’s disease or diabetes, you may want to choose a proxy who understands how those diseases work and your wishes relating to your care.
What responsibilities do health care proxies have?
The primary responsibility of a health care proxy is to make medical decisions for you. Those decisions may include anything from selecting where you’ll receive care to talking to your family about your treatment plan or condition. They may need to ask for second opinions or accept or deny life-supporting treatment options.
Since this person may need to review your medical history and chart, it may be beneficial to have someone with a medical background be your proxy. This isn’t a requirement, though, and anyone who has your best interests at heart may be a good fit for the role.
This is something to set up as soon as you can. Any medical emergency that arises or a sudden accident could lead to needing a proxy unexpectedly.