What is medical power of attorney?

Many people are familiar with the term power of attorney, but it’s important to note that there are different kinds of powers of attorney. Those who are familiar with medical power of attorney may also think that this only applies to older individuals. That is not the case, however. Here’s everything you need to know about this important role.

What someone who has medical power of attorney does

The function of medical power of attorney, also sometimes referred to as a medical proxy, is to make important medical decisions for someone else should they be unable to. While this is more common with elder planning, anyone of any age or health situation can designate medical power of attorney.

Choosing a medical power of attorney can help ensure that your wishes for your health and wellbeing are carried out when you are incapacitated and unable to advocate for yourself. Their role goes into effect when you are no longer able to communicate for yourself.

Whom can I designate as my medical power of attorney?

Your medical power of attorney can be anyone you would like, as long as they agree. It could be a spouse, another family member like a brother or sister, or even a parent. Friends can also serve as medical power of attorney for you as there is not a legal requirement that the person be related to you.

Whom a person will choose depends on several factors like age, comfort level and understanding. This is an important role and should be someone that you trust implicitly.

Other responsibilities of medical power of attorney designee

Besides advocating for your healthcare wishes, a person with medical power of attorney also has access to your medical records and can communicate on your behalf to doctors and hospital staff.

They can also handle your care issues at a recovery facility, nursing home or home care, should you be incapacitated at the time.

Can I make changes to who holds this role?

As long as you are able to communicate your wishes, you can make changes to the arrangement. For example, you may choose a medical power of attorney while you are undergoing treatment or having an operation and under anesthesia. Once you are awake and can communicate, you can revoke a person’s role or change the person who holds your medical power of attorney.

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