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Considerations When Choosing Your Health Care Proxy

There are many factors to consider when choosing the person that will be your health care proxy (agent) in the event of an emergency. Your thoughts and feelings will guide you to the best person for the role and you can not choose your doctor. Consider the following:

     1. Consider a person that will make the same choices you would make under the same circumstances.

     2. Consider if the person will make good decisions in a life threatening situation. This person must be comfortable making difficult choices in a situation that will have a profound impact on your life. It is also important that he/she not procrastinate as this will result in the doctors acting to override their procrastination.

     3. Choose a person that fully understands the importance of the position and is comfortable discussing potential options and eventualities.

     4. Discuss your wishes and beliefs with your choice, including how you feel about living with the possibility of pain or unconsciousness. He/she should be clear on the conditions you are comfortable with a choice to die or whether you would avoid death at any risk and expense.

     5. Consider someone close enough to arrive quickly in event of an emergency so that your health care choices can be made promptly.

     6. Execute a Health Care Proxy (Health Care Power of Attorney) and a Living Will. The Living Will can be supplied along with your health care proxy and will spell out your wishes in the event the health care provider is unable to locate your proxy (agent).

     7. Provide a copy of your advance directives to appropriate persons and health care organizations. See a list of who should receive your advance directive.

     8. Overall, you should ask yourself the following questions:

          a) Do you trust the person well?

          b) How well does this person know you?

          c) Will the person you choose listen to you?

          d) Can and will they make the decision to respect your wishes even if they conflict with their own values?

          e) Can they speak confidently to people in authority?

          f) How often / regularly do you see them?

          g) Can they get to you at home or in the hospital within a reasonable time?