Capacity in health care planning usually refers to an adult’s ability to make effective decisions about his or her health care, safety and well-being. Generally speaking, adults have capacity if they can understand the medical diagnosis and prognosis, appreciate the nature of the recommended care and the risks and benefits of each alternative, and use logical reasoning to make a decision. Capacity can vary over time, and illness or medication can affect the person’s capacity. If you are unsure whether a person has capacity to make health care decisions, you can ask a doctor or clinician to make a medical determination.

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