My dad’s charming rental house had just enough yard for him, enough to plant, weed and nurture–a lifelong passion for him. The very day he was to move into that little house he fell in my bathroom and broke his hip. As the paramedics were arriving, my teenage son was frantically trying to search online and print out a healthcare power of attorney form.
Of course, getting this healthcare power of attorney form signed had been on my to-do list. We found one, printed it, and asked the paramedics to be the two witnesses required. Apparently, they are not allowed to do that. At the hospital, we ended up asking my dad’s roommate and his wife to sign as the witnesses. Two complete strangers!
I am part of the sandwich generation. I work and have children and young adults I’m raising. I am an educated professional, and yet I didn’t know where to look for a healthcare power of attorney form.
Create an Advance Directive with your senior.
It can also be called a Durable Power of Attorney Form for Healthcare, Healthcare Proxy, or Living Will. Titles for the document vary, but advance directives give directions and responsibility to make healthcare decisions in the hospital, nursing home or assisted living if someone becomes unable to do so. An advance directive gives your senior a voice in their health care should they become too sick to make their wishes known. In a living will, they can state what kind of care they do or don’t want. This can make it much easier for family members to make tough health care decisions for them.
Unfortunately, this healthcare power of attorney form was necessary to use for my father many times in the next year, both in the nursing home, the memory care facility, and back in the hospital ICU.
Becoming a powerful advocate for your senior can make all the difference in their care. The American Bar Association explains a healthcare proxy’s responsibilities this way:
- Getting the same medical information the patient would get. You should have access to the patient’s medical records and any information you need about the patient’s health or health care. If you are having trouble getting the patient’s medical information, contact the medical facility’s privacy officer and ask for help.
- Talking with the medical team about treatment choices. Ask questions and get explanations, so that you can understand the patient’s medical condition and treatment options as much as possible.
- Asking for consultations and second opinions from other doctors.
- Consenting to or refusing medical tests or treatments—including life-sustaining treatment in many, but not all, cases.
- Deciding whether to transfer the patient to another doctor or health care facility (such as a hospital or skilled nursing home).
- Getting the doctor and other medical professionals to communicate with the patient if he or she is still able to understand anything.
You don’t need to contact a lawyer to get a healthcare power of attorney form. Get a free version for your state at Prepare for Your Care or through the American Bar Association . Or Search online: Durable Power of Attorney form for (insert name of your state here).
The healthcare power of attorney form will need to be signed by two witnesses, who meet the following criteria:
I am an adult and am NOT any of the following:
- Appointed as your agent or back-up agent
- Related to you by blood, marriage, domestic partnership, or adoption, nor a spouse of any such person.
- Your health care provider, including the owner or operator of a health, long-term care, or other residential or community care facility serving you
- An employee of your health care provider
- Financially responsible for your health care
- An employee of your life or health insurance provider
- A creditor of yours or entitled to any part of your estate under a will or codicil, trust, insurance policy, or by operation of intestate succession laws.
- Entitled to benefit financially in any other way after you die.
Finally, make sure you can find this healthcare power of attorney when you need it.
- Place a copy of the healthcare power of attorney in a secure location (firebox or safety deposit box)
- Place a copy of the healthcare power of attorney in a folder by your door, ready for an emergency. If you want a medical document planner, look at this GoKit.
- Take a picture of it with your phone and organize it in an “Emergency” folder in your Photos.
This form is just the tip of the iceberg in helping your senior. You can get some free templates to get you started HERE.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way as you help your senior in their waning phase of life.
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