Planning Ahead

Caring For Aging Parents

What is a health care or medical power of attorney?

It allows you to appoint an agent (a very close relative, son, or daughter), who is then legally authorized to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to make such decisions. The health care power of attorney can also include a statement of wishes and preferences in specific situations (for example, you may want to forego respirators, but continue nourishment). You can use health care powers of attorney to indicate that you want life-sustaining treatments continued, or to relinquish such treatments. An increasing number of states are enacting statutes that recognize health care powers of attorney and many states provide forms and procedures for creating the document. Without such a document, many health care providers and institutions may make critical decisions for you, not necessarily based on what you would want.


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