Who is your health care agent?

21513014 - beautiful senior woman using tablet computer outdoorsHave you named someone who could make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to? It’s important to name a health care agent —also known as a proxy or surrogate decision-maker — while you are still healthy. A health care agent is someone who you trust to make difficult decisions about your health care based on your wishes should you face a sudden life-threatening illness or injury. Selecting someone who understands your wishes and can make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to express your preferences about medical treatment yourself is vital. You’ll want someone you can trust who will do what you ask, even if differs from what they would do themselves or if they don’t think it’s the right thing to do.

A medical power of attorney — also called durable power of attorney for health care — is used for documenting your choice of a health care agent. Your health care agent should know your specific preferences when it comes to life-sustaining treatments, your values regarding what makes it worth living, your religious affiliation and preferences (if applicable) and your organ donor status. These are all things you want to include in what is called an advance directive.

Heath care agent … medical power of attorney … advance directive … Not sure where to start? Kaiser Permanente has a great online guide that helps guide you through the steps of selecting someone you can trust, making decisions regarding your care and documenting your decisions.