Planning for end-of-life medical care is difficult. It is often not something anyone wants to think about.
However, it is important to take the necessary steps to create an advance directive. Individuals should carefully consider their wishes regarding what they want if they are incapacitated, create instructions outlining their wishes and choose someone to act as their representative.
Choosing the appropriate healthcare representative can be a challenge, so what should individuals consider when making this important choice?
First, who can be a healthcare representative?
There are only a few restrictions as to who can serve as a healthcare representative. Under New Jersey law, the representative:
- Must be a competent adult, meaning over 18 and of sound mind; and
- Cannot be the individual’s physician or an employee of the hospital where they are a patient.
Aside from these details, individuals could choose almost anyone to be their healthcare representative, including a family member, close friend or even an official.
Make sure they are up for the job
Acting as a healthcare representative – especially for a loved one – is not an easy job. They must be able to put their emotions aside to make a medical decision in their loved one’s best interests and with their loved one’s desires as a guide.
Therefore, individuals should make sure their chosen representative is up for the job. It is helpful to consider a few questions, such as:
- Is this person trustworthy?
- Are they assertive?
- Will they act in good faith?
Individuals should ensure they speak with the chosen representative to ensure they understand the responsibilities and feel comfortable acting on their behalf.
Consider the logistics
A medical emergency could happen when individuals least expect it.
Therefore, the healthcare representative should be readily available if needed. That means they should live relatively nearby the individual, so they can be there as soon as possible and fulfill their responsibilities to the individual.
Individuals must make the decision that is the best for them but considering these factors can help them choose their healthcare representative for when they need them the most.