For many of us, the ability to make our own decisions about medical care is of utmost importance. As long as we have the faculty to understand medical recommendations and their potential outcomes, we want and deserve the right to exercise that capacity.
Even so, we acknowledge that a natural part of the aging process is an eventual decline in health, and we do ourselves a great disservice if we do not anticipate the possibility of needing someone else to speak on our behalf. If you have someone in your life whom you trust to honor your values and desires in the event of a medical emergency, you may want to assign them power of attorney.
Why establishing health care power of attorney might be a wise choice
Whereas a judge determines conservatorship by court order in the event that an individual is mentally incompetent, durable power of attorney (or health care power of attorney) is established willingly by said individual. Then, if the patient becomes unconscious or otherwise incapable of making life-extending or life-altering medical decisions, the entrusted individual exercises durable power of attorney and makes decisions on the patient’s behalf. This includes procedures such as intubation, surgery or artificial nourishment or hydration. We each have our own preferences around medical intervention. We deserve medical autonomy even in the most serious situations.
You assign durable power of attorney voluntarily, and you can revoke it at any time. You define the parameters and scope of their power over your medical care, which can offer a great deal of comfort and confidence as you navigate the challenges and joys of becoming an elder. When considering what will work best for you, you may find it helpful to consult someone proficient in Elder Law. Doing so ensures that your needs are met while maintaining your dignity and freedom.