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Health Care Proxy

Your health care proxy may be included in documentation with your Power of Attorney. However, it isn't necessary that your Power of Attorney also be your Health Care Proxy. The Health Care Proxy is who you officially name to administer your Advanced Directives on your behalf. You want to choose someone that is trustworthy to honor your wishes. For some, they prefer to choose someone that isn't as emotionally attached as a spouse or child. However, in some cases, others feel more comfortable trusting their family members to honor their wishes.

When it comes to building your Advanced Directives, it takes self-reflection. It takes thinking about things that might be uncomfortable. But it is important for you to document how you want to live and what abilities you want to retain to be able to live a good life. Advanced Directives are as much about living as dying. The overall thing to think about is what is more important to you - Quantity of Life or Quality of Life.

Prior to building your advanced directives, we recommend walking through a study published by Hattie Bryant. She has two workbooks:

  1. I'll Have it God's Way, Living Fully Now and Into Your Forever - A Christian's Guide to End-of-Life Discussion

  2. I'll Have it My Way, Living Fully Now and into Your Forever - A Non-Spiritual Guide to End of Life Discussion

You can find these booklets on Amazon, and they are very helpful to understanding the boxes you need to check to ensure you build an appropriate Advanced Directives Document.

You can begin by thinking about what things are important to you while you are here on this earth. If your healthcare provider should state that you would never regain any of these functions, what care do you want to be provided with to remain comfortable and pain-free? Consider these abilities, what is so important to you that you would want to refrain from additional medical intervention and choose a more palliative or comfort care path:

  • Being able to share your thoughts through words, gestures, or assistive devices

  • Understanding what people are saying to you

  • Knowing that you are hungry and can be able to swallow

  • Chewing and swallowing food which means you do not want a feeding tube

  • Taking care of your own toileting needs

  • Taking a bath or shower with or without assistance

  • Interacting in social settings

By thinking through these areas, you can then better formulate how you would want to be cared for should you be declared challenged in any of the areas above.

Choosing Your Health Care Proxy

Choose someone who knows you very well, cares about you, and who can make difficult decisions. A spouse or family member may not be the best choice because they are too emotionally involved. Sometimes they are the best choice. You know best. Choose someone who can stand up for you so that your wishes are followed. Also, choose someone who is likely to be nearby so they can help when you need them. Whether you choose a spouse, family member, or friend as your Health Care Proxy, make sure you talk about your wishes and be sure that this person agrees to respect and follow your wishes. Your Health Care Proxy should be at least 19 years old and should not be:

  • Your health care provider, including the owner or operator of a health or residential care facility serving you

  • An employee or spouse of an employee of your health care provider

  • Serving as an agent or proxy for 10 or more people unless he or she is your spouse / close relative

Understand that your Health Care Proxy can make health decisions for you. Things that your health care proxy may be able to do, includes the following:

  • Make choices for you about your medical care or services, like tests, medicine, or surgery. This care or services could be to find out what your health problem is, or how to treat it. It can also include care to keep you alive. If the treatment or care has already started, your Health Care Proxy can keep it going or have it stopped.

  • Interpret any instructions you have given in this form or given in other discussions, according to your Health Care Proxy's understanding of your wishes and values.

  • Consent to admission to an assisted living facility, hospital, hospice, or nursing home for you. Your health care proxy can hire any kind of health care worker you may need to help you take care of yourself. Your proxy may also fire a health care worker, if needed.

  • Make the decision to request, take away or not give medical treatments, including artificially-provided food and water, and any other treatments that keep you alive.

  • See and approve release of your medical records and personal files. If they need to sign your name to get any of these files, your Health Care Proxy can sign it for you.

  • Move you to another state to get the care you need to carry out your wishes.

  • Authorize or refuse to authorize any medication or procedure needed to help with pain.

  • Take any legal action needed to carry out your wishes.

  • Instruct to donate useable organs or tissues as allowed by law (note, realize that you cannot die at home if you want to be an organ donor). 

  • Apply for Medicare, Medicaid, or other programs or insurance benefits for you. Your Health Care Proxy can see the personal files, like bank records, to find out what is needed to fill out these forms.

Should you ever change your mind about having a health care proxy, you can destroy all copies of the documentation. You should always tell someone such as your doctor or family that you want to cancel or change your Health Care Proxy, and you should write the word "Revoked" in large letters across the name of each agent whose authority you want to cancel and sign on that page.

Your life is precious, and you deserve to be treated with dignity. It's important that you let your caregivers know your wishes as well. That could mean providing direction, such as:

  • Whether or not you want to be in pain and your level of comfort. You can detail what can be done to keep you comfortable.

  • You can state if you want to be offered food and fluids by mouth if it is safe for you to eat or drink.

  • You can even provide directions to be kept clean and warm.

Disclaimer:  At PAA, our desire is to be a GO TO Resource for everything you need for the Parkinson's diagnosis to live a quality life with PD. We want to make sure you have all resources you need as you plan your journey with Parkinson's now and into the future so that you can reflect and discern what decisions you want to make with the appropriate insights to help you choose and build a plan that is unique as your journey. The PAA, nor the contents on this website, should never be a replacement for professional expertise and guidance from medical, legal, or financial professionals. Our goal is to equip you for those conversations. As such, the PAA cannot be held accountable for your choices and outcomes while navigating your Parkinson's condition.


Engage Care Partners.

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