For some seniors, there may come a time when they are no longer able to make their own medical decisions. Whether this be due to cognitive decline, or physical illness, it is important to ensure that arrangements are in place to address such a situation.
Appointing a healthcare proxy before the time of need is a good solution in the event a senior is no longer able to make medical decisions for themselves later on. In this blog, we will look at the healthcare proxy role and what considerations should be taken when choosing one.
What is a Healthcare Proxy?
A health care proxy is an individual authorized by someone to make medical decisions for them should they become unable to do so. The proxy is given authority through the execution of certain legal documents.
Who Can Serve as a Medical Proxy for a Senior?
In most states, the minimum age to be a healthcare proxy is 18. However, the age requirement can vary from state to state, so it’s important for a senior to check the specific laws in their area. The person chosen to be a healthcare proxy must also be of sound mind, and capable of making important decisions regarding their duties.
According to the American Bar Association, certain people who are involved in a senior’s life should not serve as their medical proxy, such as:
• Their doctor.
• The owner of a senior living community.
• Someone who has a financial interest in the senior, such as a life insurance beneficiary.
• A court appointed guardian.
• A person who is the healthcare proxy for multiple people.
What Decisions Can a Healthcare Proxy Make?
A senior can choose which types of decisions a healthcare proxy can make on their behalf. Controls can be put in place to regulate the authority a proxy has to match the wishes of the senior. Typically, the range of duties for a healthcare proxy can include:
• Choosing healthcare providers and hospitals.
• Deciding on what medical care, surgeries or treatments are done.
• Overseeing medical records.
• Decisions regarding autopsies, organ donation, and the disposition of a person’s remains at the time of death.
What to Look for in a Healthcare Proxy
Because making healthcare decisions on another’s behalf is a highly sensitive issue, it’s important that a senior finds a person that is trustworthy, and knowledgeable about their wishes, and can be counted on to make decisions that are 100% in alignment with those wishes.
A senior should have very detailed conversations with any potential healthcare proxy candidates to ensure they are willing to adhere to the senior’s requirements.
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Executing the Healthcare Proxy Document
A qualified attorney, knowledgeable in family law, can draw up a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare document that specifies a senior’s wishes. The agreement must be signed by both the senior and the proxy, and be notarized.
Just as importantly, it is critical that the healthcare proxy keep a notarized copy of the agreement accessible at all times.
Selecting the Right Healthcare Proxy
For seniors, taking the time to carefully research the duties of a healthcare proxy, and selecting the right individual to perform those tasks is critically important. Should the time come when your loved one is no longer able to make their own medical decisions, the care taken in selecting the appropriate proxy will be time well spent.
The compassionate and knowledgeable team at Frontier Senior Living has helped many families find the perfect Senior Living community to meet their loved one’s specific needs. We help our residents live lives full of purpose and meaning.
If you would like to learn more about our services, we cordially invite you to visit one of our wonderful communities, take a tour, and speak to our staff.