WHAT IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO MAKE HEALTH CARE DECISIONS ABOUT YOURSELF

As long as you are able to actively take part in medical decisions about yourself and are over the age of 18, no one else has the legal authority to do so.  As happens in life, circumstances may occur which impair your ability to make a medical decision for yourself.  It can be a temporary situation such as the result of an accident or surgery or it can be a long-term event such as in the case of cognitive decline.

Who will make medical decisions on your behalf in the event there comes a time when you are unable to make them for yourself?   The good news is that you can designate a decision maker before you need it.

An Appointment of Healthcare Representative is a legal document in which you name who you want to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. This appointment covers not only end-of-life decisions that might need to be made, but also any other medical decisions during your lifetime.  Before your designee can make these decisions, your attending physician must determine that you are (1) unable to understand and appreciate the nature and consequences of healthcare decisions and (2) unable to reach, communicate and form a decision regarding treatment.  Once your attending physician makes that decision, then your representative can make your healthcare decisions on your behalf.

To ensure that your wishes as to treatment are carried out, it is important that your designated decision maker know what your wishes are concerning a variety of medical circumstances that may occur.¬† While it is impossible to cover all potential situations, your general position should be made clear to your designated decision maker and your medical providers.¬†¬†¬† To further assist your designated decision maker and medical providers, you can also execute a ‚Äúliving will,‚ÄĚ which is also known as a document concerning withholding or withdrawal of life support systems in Connecticut.¬† The Connecticut version of this form allows for the maker of the document to add or delete types of treatment depending on personal preference.¬† This document gives guidance to your decision maker in the event it is needed.

It is important that you review your advanced directives periodically to make sure they are up to date and still reflect your wishes.   

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