When people are planning for end-of-life arrangements, many choose to complete a legal document called an advanced directive. An advanced directive allows individuals to have some control over decisions regarding medical care and treatment, such as what treatments they would like to undergo or when to withhold treatment even if death will result.
When people complete advance directives, they have the ability to designate another person to make health care decisions for them in the event they are no longer to make decisions themselves. Such a person is called a health care proxy.
Individuals are able to appoint a trusted person to make decisions on their behalf. Physicians are mandated to follow the treatment decisions made by the health care proxy. It is a good idea to select a backup health care proxy just in case the chosen person is either unable or unwilling to serve in the capacity when the time comes for them to do so. People should discuss their wishes with their intended health care proxy to make certain that he or she agrees with the decisions the person wishes to make regarding life-sustaining treatment, feeding tubes and other matters.
Living wills may be an important consideration for people when they are thinking about end-of-life health care issues. Not everyone wishes to have their lives artificially sustained. By having a living will in place, people can ensure that they will still have some control over these important medical treatment decisions even in the event that they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.
By carefully selecting a health care proxy and ensuring that the chosen person understands their wishes is are willing to implement them at the appropriate time, people who have living wills can ensure that they receive the care they want.