Many elderly Massachusetts residents have medical conditions that affect their everyday lives. These conditions can be physical or mental in nature and cause the person to experience a loss of mobility, dexterity, or cognitive ability. As a person gets older, their condition may continue to worsen until they can no longer care for or make decisions for themselves.
In Massachusetts, your spouse or child does not automatically have the power to make these decisions for you. A healthcare proxy is a legal document that allows you to choose a competent adult (at least 18 years old) to be your healthcare agent and make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are no longer able to do so. You can appoint a family member, friend, or another person you feel would respect your wishes and be able to handle the responsibilities that come with being your healthcare representative.
What should I think about when choosing a healthcare agent?
Before you choose someone to be your agent, there a few things to consider. Some things to think about may include:
- Personal and religious beliefs that may affect healthcare decisions made on your behalf
- Your priorities in life
- The people you go to when you need help making medical decisions or support
- Whether you want your proxy to strictly follow your instructions or do what they think is best for you when the time comes
- How finances will impact the medical care decisions made on your behalf
Once you have chosen a proxy, you will need to put it in writing and sign it in front of two competent adult witnesses. An elder law attorney can help make sure that your proxy is legally valid so that your agent can easily step in, if needed.