Not heard of the term Healthcare Power of Attorney? No worries, as we’ll be providing all the details you need to know of a healthcare power of attorney. In the simplest definition, a healthcare power of attorney is a legal document that grants an individual the responsibility and authority to make decisions on another person’s medical care. As medical needs are incredibly personal, it’s important to make sure the individual shares a close and trusted relationship with the party. While the healthcare power of attorney is granted by law, states have different rules and forms to fill out, so it’s highly recommended to do sufficient research and check with the relevant authorities before applying for a healthcare power of attorney.
Who Is it Targeted Towards?
A healthcare power of attorney can be beneficial for people who are no longer capable to communicate their wants or unable to make wise decisions for themselves when it comes to medical care. For many older adults, cognitive health conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can promote loved ones to apply for a healthcare power of attorney. The individual who is trusted to make medical decisions for the person is called an agent or healthcare proxy, and his or her name would be listed in the form.
What Can the Healthcare Proxy Do?
Once the healthcare proxy is certified to take care of the person’s medical needs, they can consult with doctors directly and have the power to continue or stop treatment. They can also make important life-and-death choices when the person is incapacitated.
While some states can be more strict regarding the application for a healthcare power of attorney, the general application process is relatively straightforward. Once a person no longer has the capacity to make their own medical decisions, the healthcare power of attorney is automatically activated. All the person has to do is state the name of the individual they wish to become the healthcare proxy. This individual can be anybody, from family members and friends to even colleagues. As long as the individual is capable to make informed choices, he or she can be designated a healthcare proxy.
In the form, the person will have to list out any special requests, such as asking for a do-not-resuscitate order. The person also has the freedom to change their healthcare proxy anytime they want or list down two backup healthcare proxies just in case the primary one is unavailable or reluctant to take on the role.
Benefits of a Healthcare Power of Attorney
Applying for a healthcare power of attorney is a form of self-care. If the person prioritizes their health and well-being, they would know that a healthcare power of attorney would always have their best interests in mind. This legal document allows the person to state their wishes regarding their medical care, which will be extremely important once he or she can no longer express their needs. If the doctors and healthcare proxies know what are the person’s expectations, their medical care will go on more smoothly.