Living Wills and Health Care Directives: Planning for the
Worst Case Scenario
by Barbara Mascio
Recent headlines about the Schiavo family in Florida created a
multitude of calls to Senior Approved Services from family
members who wanted clarification on what it means to designate
an individual to make health care decisions on behalf of a loved
one that can not make his or her wishes known. Questions about
why the spouse's decision wasn't protected from legal actions
brought by the parents of a married adult child as well as the
intended intervention that our United States Congress attempted
have furthered this confusion for each of us.
I did a little research on behalf of the families (that phoned
us) and believe the following information that we passed on will
be of interest to you as well. We found most of this information
at The American Bar
Association web site.
Who to Choose?
Who should you select to speak on your behalf in a case where
you are physically and/or mentally not able to state your
wishes? The following ten guidelines will help you decide. You
should think about naming one primary person and a secondary
back up in case your first choice is not available for some
Your Health Care Agent, Proxy, Representative, Attorney-In-Fact,
Surrogate, Patient Advocate, Guardian of Person (all of these
names mean the same thing and will vary in use state to state
- Meet the legal criteria in your state for acting as
agent or proxy
- Be willing to speak on your behalf
able to act on your wishes and separate his/her own feelings
- Live close by or could travel to be at your side
- Know you well and understand what's important to
- Be someone you trust with your life
- Be willing to
talk with you now about sensitive issues and will listen to your
- Be likely to be available long into the future
able to handle conflicting opinions between family members,
friends, and medical personnel
- Be a strong advocate in the
face of an unresponsive doctor or institution
Who Cannot Be a Proxy?
How Much Authority Should You Give
Who Should Have a Record of Your Wishes?
Who Determines Quality of Life?
Continue reading the complete article Planning for the Worst Case Scenario
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