When you need someone to speak for you during a medical crisis, you have the right to choose a healthcare advocate or healthcare proxy. In choosing a proxy, there are many things to think about.
You want to choose someone that will have your best interests at heart. Choose someone that will speak for you the way that you would speak for yourself if you could and that will have the same characteristics as you when it comes to healthcare decisions. Usually, there is only one healthcare proxy at a time, but a backup person is always useful.
The following are some characteristics that you should look for when choosing a healthcare proxy.
• It is important to choose someone that you trust with your life. During a medical crisis, this person may very well hold your life in their hands. If you know they have your best interests, they would be a good candidate for a healthcare proxy.
• Choose someone that will be available to you into the future. You want a proxy that will be available to you now and for the foreseeable future. You never know when a healthcare crisis will arise, so you want someone that will be in your life for a long time.
• Can you talk to this person about highly sensitive issues? You want someone as a proxy that you can talk to about very personal issues. They should listen, and agree with your wishes and do everything in their power to make sure that your wishes are fulfilled.
• Can your advocate yet feisty when needed? It is optimal to choose someone that can stand up to doctors were other healthcare providers when they go against your wishes. Your proxy’s job is to make sure that they speak up for you when you cannot speak for yourself. Make sure that the person you choose has the personality to do so.
• Can your proxy get to you when needed? Make sure that you choose someone that lives near you or could travel to get to you if needed. If they cannot do that, they at least need to be available by phone for anything that may come up with your condition.
• Is your proxy over 18? By law, they must be.
• Your proxy cannot be any of your healthcare providers or employees of your healthcare providers.
You should talk thoroughly with your proxy about your wishes, hopes and fears. Tell them exactly what authority you are giving them over your healthcare decisions. Be extremely clear about what you expect from them, and make sure they know that they will be on record with all of your healthcare providers. Good luck!
Tiffany Matthews, aka “Healthebooklady”, is an author, social worker, burgeoning speaker and healthcare advocate. She is founder & CEO of Live Better Boomer!, a healthcare advocacy firm that teaches Boomers and other how to get their best healthcare through advocating for themselves.
She has authored an information line including e-books and upcoming online courses about topics including medication management, advance directives, navigating your hospital stay and dealing with a difficult diagnosis.