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How to Select a Health Care Proxy

MP900398747You’ll need a brave soul with a backbone to make the hard, sometimes unpopular decisions on your behalf, if you become incapacitated.

Designating a health care proxy is like picking a guardian for your children, only it’s for yourself. Who would be the best person to make a decision on your behalf? Who would be able to follow your wishes, even when they are different from their own?

Many people get stressed when asked to supply a name for their healthcare proxy. As a result, they end up making a bad selection. They can also fail to share that information with the person they selected.

Forbes’ recent article, “How To Select A Healthcare Proxy,” says that while the odds of being called into service are low, the person we choose for such a role should be picked with great thought, as to their availability and their suitability. Let’s look at these guidelines that can help with the selection.

Your healthcare proxy should know you well, understand your values, and be able to distinguish them from his or her own. The person must also be willing to discuss sensitive topics in depth, in order to gain a true understanding of what you want and don’t want.

If you have close family, it may seem obvious to pick your spouse or your first-born child or your closest sibling as your proxy. However, ask yourself if this person is the best person for the job. He or she may have to deal with push-back from other members of the family or conflict among family, friends and medical personnel. Can they handle this?

Age. Your proxy should be available long into the future. If you want someone in that position who’s close to your age, be sure to also select back-ups, and be select a person who’s much younger.

Geography. The person in first position on your healthcare proxy should live close by, because hospitals frequently require a live human being to make critical care decisions. Your proxy needs to be able to get to the facility quickly.

Choose multiples. Select more than one person named as a proxy. If the person in first position can’t get there or is incapacitated, someone else will have to take their place.

Don’t miss this step of health care proxy designation: the conversation. Sit down with the people who you have chosen for this role, one at a time and in a private setting. Ask their permission to be named in this role. Discuss your wishes, and your reasoning behind them. Be honest—you need this person to be able to act in your stead, and to do so, they need to really understand what you want. Give them a copy of your proxy. Tell your family members, so they know who has been selected for this task.

Reference: Forbes (April 10, 2019) “How To Select A Healthcare Proxy”