If someone has selected you as a health care agent, you may be wondering, “How can I prepare to be a Health Care Agent?
The best way to prepare for this important role is to talk with the person to understand his or her wishes for future health care. Be sure to talk about medical decisions that may come at the end of life. Being a Health Care Agent means you are trusted to make health care decisions on behalf of the person above if he or she cannot make those decisions. You may need to talk from time to time to see if his or her choices have changed.
To help you be prepared, talk with the person about:
“What does living well mean to him or her?”
“What brings comfort and joy?”
“What cultural, religious, spiritual, or personal beliefs, if any, are important in choosing care?”
During these conversations some people say things like:
“I want to die with dignity.”
“Don’t keep me alive with machines.”
“Just keep me comfortable.”
These words can mean many different things. Ask the person what he or she means.
Find help to have these conversations.
Talking about a person’s wishes for future health care may be uncomfortable. However, the more you understand and are clear about what someone wants, the more confident you will feel as a Health Care Agent.
Consider talking to professionals who help people with Advance Care Planning such as:
- Advance Care Planning facilitators
- Social workers
- Religious and spiritual leaders
- Health care providers