How Will You Be Treated If You Become Too Sick To Speak For Yourself?
Updated: Feb 11
It’s a nightmare everyone has: When I become unable to tell the docs and nurses what kind of care I want, what will they and my family do with me?
Advanced Directives to the rescue!
When you can’t speak for yourself, the legal/medical documents you created ahead of time will speak for you. And, the best part is, everybody has to follow your wishes when they’re written down properly! These documents, as a group, are referred to as Advanced Directives. Keep in mind: Your written wishes can be changed by you at any time. Then, those new wishes will be followed.
Here’s a quick look at the legal/medical documents you should put into place ASAP.
Health Care Proxy
“… a healthcare proxy is a document with which a patient appoints an agent to legally make healthcare decisions on behalf of the patient when the patient is incapable of making and executing the healthcare decisions stipulated in the proxy.” --- Wikipedia
In other words, in writing, you lay out your overall wishes for what kind of treatment you want. Remember, too: A properly prepared Health Care Proxy has to be followed by your family and physicians if you are unable to communicate.
Living wills are similar to Health Care Proxies but are often too narrow in their wording to apply to many common medical situations. Also, rules regarding Health Care Proxies and Living Wills vary state-to-state.
The very best way you can assure that your wishes will be followed in the event you can’t communicate them yourself is to have the proper legal/medical documents already in place. And the best way to do that is to engage the services of a good attorney. He or she will guide you through the process and you will, ultimately, have peace of mind. You will also relieve your family from making some extremely difficult decisions.
Power of Attorney (POA)
“A power of attorney is a written authorization to represent or act on another's behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter.” -- Wikipedia
That definition doesn’t do justice to the real power of a Power of Attorney.
Think of it: You are giving someone (hopefully, someone you trust completely!) the right to act on your behalf in some or all of your legal/financial/personal matters.
You are, if effect, naming someone to make decisions that affect you when you can’t make those decisions yourself… for whatever reason. Choose wisely!
Again, consult an attorney for the proper preparation and safeguarding of your powerful Power of Attorney.
Many states have adopted the Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment…
the M.O.L.S.T. (If you live in New York State, only your doctor can prepare your M.O.L.S.T.) Some of the most significant parts of the M.O.L.S.T. are the sections where you state your clear wishes regarding the delivery of life-sustaining treatment: Ex: Do you want to have equipment used to help you breathe? Do you want to be resuscitated if your heart stops beating?
Act now to save your family from the difficulty of having to make life-and-death decisions on your behalf.
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