A medical power of attorney (POA) gives your chosen party the legal right to make health care decisions on your behalf if you’re ever unable to make them for yourself. This designation is an important part of end-of-life planning, and people commonly select a family member or friend for the position.
Regardless of your relationship with your chosen proxy, it is crucial to have some frank discussions with them about your preferences to ensure that they understand your values and priorities. Here are some of the topics you should cover.
Your personal, religious and cultural beliefs
One of the biggest things you need to discuss is whether you would want life-sustaining treatment, how you feel about palliative care or what your preferences are for pain relief and other comfort care. Your personal beliefs are the most important, and those may be influenced by your faith or your culture. Make sure that you and your medical POA are both on the same page when it comes to what you believe and what you want – and that they’re comfortable advocating for those things on your behalf.
Your medical history
Discuss your medical history with your medical power of attorney, including any chronic conditions you may have, past surgeries or procedures, and any allergies or adverse reactions you have had to medications in the past. That can make it easier for your doctors and hospitals to get information that’s critical to your care if you’re incapacitated.
Your living will
A living will is a legal document that outlines your wishes for medical care if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. It’s really impossible for a living will to address every possible medical situation that arises, but this does serve as a guideline that can help your POA cope with the unexpected. Make sure, too, that they have updated copies of any directives you make.
Your family dynamics
You should also discuss any family-related issues that may crop up. If, for example, you know that your children are against your “Do Not Resuscitate” request, your POA should probably know that they may not be easy to handle. You want to make sure that your POA will be able to withstand familial pressure to disregard your wishes. Experienced legal guidance can help you make certain that you have the right plans in place for your needs.