Choice In Dying (Washington, DC) recently released a new booklet entitled, Healthcare Agents: Appointing and Being One, intended to serve as a reference when appointing a health care agent (proxy) or acting as one. Providing answers to common questions and highlighting difficult topics everyone should consider, the new booklet helps individuals select agents who will be successful advocates and also helps reduce agents uncertainty over which decisions best reflect the patients wishes.
Among other important issues, the booklet urges people to talk with family members and agents about medical treatment decisions and personal values as a way to ensure that their dignity and quality of life will be respected. People should not assume that their closest relatives would automatically want to be agents or will know their wishes, the booklet warns.
The thoughtful appointment of a health care agent is one of the best ways to ensure that end-of-life medical care decisions are heard, understood, and honored. Instead of seeing end-of-life decisions as a blank canvas on which others will paint, put the paint brush in your own hands. Appoint a proxy and paint a picture of the life you want to live up to the last minute. Protect your choices and at the same time protect your family from the emotional anguish and conflict of not knowing your wishes. That is the best gift you can give them, said Dr. Karen Kaplan, executive director of Choice In Dying.