You are fortunate. You have great genes. Your last physical exam was so good that your doctor urged you to increase your intake of chocolate. Why, then, should you give any thought to the possibility of serious illness or to dying? Why should you even consider that the making of a Living Will and the appointment of a Health Care Agent may be the right thing to do, regardless of your state of health?
Some of the hard decisions that you should make while you are in good health, include:
- Who would you choose to make health care decisions, if you were too ill to make your wishes known?
- Under what circumstances do you wish life and death decisions to be made?
Consider the advantages of dealing with a health care crisis before it occurs. For example, a Living Will and Health Care Proxy permits YOU to specify what treatment and care you want (or don’t want) if your medical condition is incurable or irreversible. A Living Will or Health Care Proxy may direct your attending physician to withhold or withdraw certain medical treatment or, in the alternative, to administer certain treatment.
These documents may also state that you expect that family, physicians, health care facilities and all persons involved with your health care decisions to regard themselves as legally bound to act in accordance with your wishes. For example, you may declare that you wish to live out your last days at home rather than in a hospital, if that decision does not jeopardize your chance of recovery or impose an undue burden on your family.
The person you appoint as your Health Care Agent should obviously be someone you know and trust. This person will have the power to make a broad range of health care decisions for you. For example, the Health Care Proxy may give your agent authority to consent, or to withdraw consent to any care, treatment or procedure to diagnose or treat a physical or mental condition.
You should be aware that even if you execute a Health Care Proxy, YOU have the right to continue to make your own medical and other health care decisions if you are able to give informed consent with respect to the decision.