Older adults are often more likely to suffer from medical conditions that impact their physical and mental abilities. As a result of their health issues, many elderly New York residents get to the point where they are no longer able to manage to care for themselves or manage their own affairs.
In New York, a health care proxy document allows you to choose someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are no longer capable of making decisions for yourself. Any competent adult, age 18 or older, can serve as your health care agent, but you should make sure to choose someone you trust who is willing to take action on your behalf. Here are some of the decisions your health care agent may be able to make on your behalf:
- Whether to continue, begin, or end treatment
- Whether to insert a breathing or feeding tube
- Whether to continue, begin or end life support if you are non-responsive for a long period of time or in a permanent coma.
What is included in my health care proxy form?
The health care proxy form requires you to include certain basic information (e.g., name of your agent), but you may also include additional information. This additional information may include:
- Agent limitations: If you have discussed your wishes with your agent, you may trust your agent to take full control and make all decisions on your behalf, based on your wishes. However, if you would like to limit the amount of control your agent has over your health care, you will need to include these limitations in your document.
- Expiration date: Your healthcare proxy will last indefinitely unless you set an expiration date or condition.
- Organ/tissue donation: You may specify your wishes regarding organ/tissue donation.
Your health care proxy document will only go into effect once a physician determines that you are incapacitated or unable to make your own medical decisions.
Choosing a health care proxy is a big decision. An elder law attorney can help make sure you make the best choice for you and that your wishes will be respected when the time comes.