As we get older, we are more likely to develop health conditions that affect our physical and mental capabilities. An adult who develops dementia or another form of cognitive impairment is often no longer able to make decisions for themselves. Therefore, it is imperative for older adults to appoint a medical power of attorney to make medical decisions on their behalf in the event they become incapacitated.
What are the responsibilities of a medical power of attorney?
You can appoint anyone over the age of 18 as your medical power of attorney, but the person you choose should be someone you trust to respect your wishes and make the best decisions possible for your care. You may also choose an alternate agent in the event that the person you originally chose is unable or unwilling to assist. In Texas, the medical power of attorney form must be signed by you, with your signature acknowledged by a notary, and two witnesses (adult witnesses that meet the criteria listed on the form).
The power of attorney allows the agent to make decisions regarding:
- What treatments you will receive/not receive
- Whether you should undergo surgery
- Whether to continue treatment
- Where you will live (long-term care facility)
- What life support measures to take
The medical power of attorney is often broad and does not specify the patient’s wishes, so the agent will have to make decisions based on conversations they had with the patient before incapacitation occurred.
Appointing a power of attorney can give you and your family peace of mind if you ever become incapacitated. If you have questions about choosing a medical power of attorney, an elder law attorney can help.