What Is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?

Durable power of attorney for health care is an important document for seniors.A durable power of attorney for health care, a legal document, names the person who will make your medical decisions if you are unable to. The person, called a health-care agent, acts on your behalf if a doctor determines you are incapacitated.

You may record instructions for your health-care agent in a health-care directive. Your health agent and doctors are guided by the health-care directive.

A durable power of attorney for health care and health-care directive are often combined and are sometimes referred to as a living will. Advanced directives ensure medical facilities provide treatment according to your wishes

Who Should Have an Advanced Directive?

Advanced directives are important for the elderly and those who have a life-threatening disease. Even young, healthy adults may wish to draw up an advanced directive. No one is immune to accidents and life-threatening diseases.

When Are Advanced Directives Used?

Advanced directives come into effect only if you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself. If you are able to make informed decisions, you retain your rights.

Advanced directives are used when a physician concludes that life-sustaining treatment would only prolong the process of dying. For instance, if doctors determine a patient is in an irreversible coma, with no hope of recovery, an advanced directive may express the patient’s desire to be taken off life support.

What Happens if I Don’t Have an Advanced Directive?

If you are unable to make decisions for yourself and don’t have an advanced directive, a medical facility will have no way of knowing your wishes concerning medical care.

Should you have a terminal condition, doctors may administer all available treatments to sustain your life. Your family may not know your preferences. They will be faced with difficult decisions concerning care that artificially prolongs life.

A durable power of attorney for health care and a health-care directive enable physicians and family to respect your wishes.

Who Should I Choose to Be My Health-Care Agent?

You may name anyone to be your agent. Most people choose a family member or friend. Even if you have a health-care directive, it’s important to discuss with your agent your preferences for end-of-life medical care.

Call on Northwest Legal Advocates for Clear, Caring Guidance

Our Vancouver, Washington, elder care attorneys are adept at crafting advanced directives. We’ll listen to your needs, offer you advice and prepare documents to fit your situation.