We all know the importance of having an advanced health care directive so that our wishes for our health care are followed in the event we are unable to make such decisions for ourselves. Certain types of directives call for the appointment of a health care agent, who would make our health care decisions not addressed by the directive. When choosing this agent, be sure the decision is an informed one, so you don’t bet on the wrong horse.
Imagine you select a person to serve as your health care agent because he/she is a physician. On the surface, that might seem like a wise choice. But what if he/she ends up advocating that a dementia patient be heavily sedated in a facility rather than placed in a program that seeks to stimulate the mind to preserve the patient’s quality of life for as long as possible?
Or, imagine you select a relative to serve as your health care agent, but the two of you are extremely close, and he/she cannot bear the thought of your passing. Selecting that relative might result in an unwillingness to allow the doctors to let you pass comfortably and peacefully in an effort to hold on.
These mental incapacitation and end of life issues are difficult, but the decisions you make now can be crucial later. Be thoughtful about the person you choose and be honest with yourself about whether that person shares your views regarding your care. For a decision as important as this, you don’t want to bet on the wrong horse.