top of page

Selecting a Health Care Agent

One of the documents we will discuss during our counseling sessions is the Health Care Power of Attorney.  Sometimes this is called a Health Care Proxy, or Advance Directive – it is all referring to the same document!  The Health Care Power of Attorney is a document that gives someone the ability to make your health care decisions when you are not able (i.e. unconscious, heavily medicated, under anesthesia, dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.).

The person who is given this power is referred to as a health care agent.  Some factors to consider when selecting your health care agent include: 

  • Is the agent geographically close?  Health care decisions may be very time sensitive.  An agent that cannot get to a hospital quickly could be at a disadvantage.

  • What are their religious or philosophical beliefs?  Your agent should be able to carry out your wishes even if they are not consistent with their personal religious or philosophical beliefs.

  • Can they be a good patient advocate on your behalf?  Your agent will need to be able to ask questions about your health care, be a driving force to make certain your wishes are carried out, be comfortable to ask for a second opinion, as well as ensure you are receiving quality care.  Is this within the personality traits of your agent?

  • Do they communicate well with other family members?  Unlike trustees, only one person at a time may serve as a health care agent.  Due to privacy laws, many health care providers will only communicate with the health care agent.  Thus, the person you select should be able to keep other family members and loved ones apprised of your medical situation.

  • Do they have any medical background?  Although this is not a necessity, it is certainly helpful if your agent has some medical background as they will be better positioned to know what questions to ask and who to direct them to.

  • Are they decisive?  Someone that is not able to make decisions in stressful situations is likely not a good candidate to serve in this role.

bottom of page