As we’ve discussed before, every adult should have a health care power of appointment. Your health care agent is the person you nominate in your health care power of appointment to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to make them for yourself due to some sort of disability or illness.

Such decisions often include discussing with your doctors appropriate courses of treatment, and this conversation may include the most difficult decision–whether your life should be continued by artificial means such as artificial breathing machines, feeding, or hydration.

When choosing your health care agent, here are a few criteria you need to consider:

  • Do you have a strong level of trust in your agent?
  • Will your agent proactively educate himself about your illness and ask the appropriate questions of your medical care providers?
  • How well does your agent handle stressful and emotional situations?
  • Are you confident that your agent will be able to carry out and honor your health care wishes, even if he or she may not agree with them? (For example, if it’s your desire that your agent “pull the plug” if the situation arises, will your agent actually be able to follow through with the action?)
  • Will your agent be persistent in making sure that your wishes are followed? Will your agent be willing to speak up on your behalf if he feels that your wishes are not being honored?
  • Have you talked to your potential agent and is he/she willing to take on the responsibility?

I hope these considerations help you take action on this very important decision.

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