Have Your Say – Your Health Your Way!
If there is one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it is to be prepared for change. The same can be said for health care planning. We cannot take our health for granted, so having a plan in place to deal with health challenges as our conditions evolve is important, especially for frail older adults.
A key part of health care planning is appointing a Health Care Proxy (HCP) who can speak on our behalf in the event that we are too sick or incapacitated to speak for ourselves. Having a conversation about care goals and values is always more effective when done in a calm, supported environment. This ensures that we are in control of our health decisions no matter what the circumstances. To that end, it is important to choose a HCP that we fully trust will follow through on our stated wishes for care. A HCP does not always have to be a spouse or family member. One of the most important criteria to consider in choosing a Health Care Proxy is whether that person can follow our specific directions and not be emotionally conflicted. There is also the option of appointing an alternate proxy as backup to give even more peace of mind. Appointing a Health Care Proxy is a simple two step process. 1. Complete a downloadable form https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/1430.pdf and 2. Have it signed by two witnesses. If care wishes change over time, it is important to inform the HCP. Similarly, we may also change a Health Care Proxy by completing a new form and updating family and health care team members on our new choice. For those who are seriously ill, a Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment form (MOLST) https://www.health.ny.gov/forms/doh-5003.pdf is helpful to enable a person to dictate exact choices around a variety of specific medical treatments. These treatments may include artificial feeding or receiving cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. It can even include dialysis or receiving intravenous antibiotics. This form is completed by a physician after an in-depth conversation with the patient and/or HCP and is transferable from home to hospital. Always have it readily available to show to EMS service providers.
For more information on appointing a Health Care Proxy or having a discussion on health care goals, go to https://theconversationproject.org/ or speak to an Aging Life Care Professional ® at www.aginglifecare.org find a care manager link at: https://www.aginglifecare.org/ALCAWEB/What_is_Aging_Life_Care/Find_an_Aging_Life_Care_Expert/ALCAWEB/What_is_Aging_Life_Care/Search/Find_an_Expert.aspx?hkey=6c3ced7c-b5f0-4d27-9d30-37734ab6cf49
Written by: Anne Sansevero