Should you suffer a catastrophic accident or are nearing the end of your life, wouldn’t you want to be in a certain setting (at home or in a hospital,) be surrounded by those you love most (family and friends,) and have your other health-related wishes realized?
If you up in situation where you can’t speak or express those wishes, they’ll likely go unheard and you’ll have to hope that those around you make the decision you would make for yourself in such a circumstance. The Conversation Project found that over half of those 65 or older that end up in the hospital lose the aptitude to speak for themselves.
The benefit of having a proxy
You may have an endless amount of love and trust for everyone in your family, but do you trust them enough to make your end-of-life decisions. There are mass amounts of emotion during times of distress, and if there isn’t one person labeled to make these decisions, this emotional weight may pull family members to make a decision they feel is best, but in reality, the decision may not line up with the patient’s wishes.
A good proxy must be someone you have unwavering trust, that in a life-changing or ending circumstance, this person will have your wishes at heart, and will have them carried out without emotion getting in the way. One such major decision, could be whether to keep the patient alive on life-support. That’s a decision that needs a pre-meditated, documented and unbiased response.
Questions to ask yourself (and your proxy)
- Will the proxy be able to make decisions that are only in your best-interest and align with your wishes?
- Do you believe their emotions will get in the way?
- Will they stand up on your behalf against the emotions of other family members and friends?
- Will this proxy be able and willing to ask busy doctors questions to ensure they are making the correct decision?
- Will this proxy ask for clarification when an answer or situation is misunderstood?
- Will your proxy be able to make quick decisions, based on your wishes, in fast-changing and complicated situations?
The first step to figuring out who your proxy is to have a conversation, but getting a proxy isn’t as simple as a verbal agreement. Once you and your proxy agree, it needs to be documented. In your state-specific advance directive, you will document your health care wishes to guide your proxy should you become unable to speak.