The Importance of a Health Care Power of Attorney
No one wants to think about what could happen if they became so injured or ill they could not make their own health care decisions, or if they developed dementia or another condition that impacts comprehension and decision-making capabilities. Even though it is uncomfortable, detailing specifics and covering a variety of situations will give you peace of mind about your future and what you can expect in terms of care. Including specific details about the types of measures and treatments you want and those you do not will help your representative make the best choices for you if you are unable to do so for yourself.
If you are injured in an accident or develop a condition that makes it impossible for you to make your own decisions, then a representative you choose can make decisions on your behalf. When you appoint a health care power of attorney, you choose a trusted person to make your medical decisions when you cannot do so. Since this is a legal document and will have a great impact on your life and future, you need to be as detailed as possible to ensure your wishes are understood and followed. It will also allow you to create a document that truly has the level of detail needed to convey your wishes, concerns, and needs at the time when it matters most.
What Is a Health Care Power of Attorney?
A legal document that allows you to choose someone to make important healthcare decisions on your behalf, a power of attorney can help ensure your wishes are followed if you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions.
This includes decisions about consent for health care, withholding or withdrawing from treatment, specific treatments you wish to have or wish to avoid, psychiatric care, hospitalization, and nursing home care options.
At Elder Law of Omaha, our clients are provided with a “health care document package” which includes not only a health care power of attorney but also a living will and HIPAA document. This allows our clients to express their wishes fully. Because the person you choose as your medical representative is likely a family member or close friend, having to make decisions for you will be a stressful and upsetting process. If you make them guess, they will constantly be worried that they did not do exactly what you wanted and that they did not do their best for you. Since the person you choose wants to work on your behalf, it is important to give them the right tools to do so; you can do this by clearly stating your preferences and by avoiding making them stressed over decisions. Vague statements should be revised to include detail, and you should cover as many instances as you can, even if they seem unlikely. You may not develop dementia at a young age, but including this possibility and your preferences about it allows your power of attorney to protect you for years to come and takes some burden off of your decision-maker.
There may be specific actions you want to be taken on your behalf in the event of a medical crisis or issue. You may wish to opt for surgery, or whatever measures are needed to prolong your life, and state preferences for your medical care and even your housing. If you want to be cared for in a specific location or facility, stay in your home, or have another preferred outcome if you develop a memory-related condition, then you need to detail your wishes to your power of attorney.
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