Unexpected illnesses or injuries or simply the effects of age and time may bring about situations in which people can no longer speak or make decisions for themselves. Having advance care directives in place may help them indicate their preferences for medical care in such circumstances. However, naming someone to act as their health care proxy, or to make decisions on their behalf, may give people peace of mind that should the worst come to pass, the physicians treating them and their families will abide by their wishes.
Considering some factors as they prepare to make their choice may help people to select the right person to name as their health care proxy.
Do they share the same views and values?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, part of advance care planning may include naming a health care proxy. In making this decision, people may find it helpful to consider whether their potential choices share the same medical decision and life views and values. For example, someone who does not wish to have life-saving measures such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation performed may not benefit from choosing a pro-life family member to serve as a health care proxy.
Will they struggle with end-of-life choices?
According to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, when naming a health care proxy, people may consider whether their potential candidates may struggle to make end-of-life choices. Some family members or friends may find it too difficult because of the shared emotional connection to make decisions that may result in death. This may include, for instance, carrying out people’s wishes not to receive CPR or have a defibrillator used in the event their hearts stop.
Will they speak up?
When choosing a health care agent, people may also consider the personalities of those they may ask to take on this responsibility. Questions may come up or family members may need clarification on things. As such, people may consider whether the person they choose will stand up for their rights and speak up if they need a better explanation or answers before making decisions.
Ultimately, the decision of whom to name as their health care agents lies with those making the choice. People must make their selections based on who they feel most comfortable entrusting with such important life-and-death responsibilities.