Even though thinking about a serious illness or catastrophic injury can be uncomfortable, planning for your potential incapacitation allows you to retain some control over what happens to you. After all, by definition, incapacitation makes it impossible to communicate your wishes to your doctors, relatives and others.
As the Mayo Clinic notes, an advance directive instructs doctors about the medical procedures you want them to use to save your life. In addition to drafting a comprehensive advance directive, it is probably worthwhile to designate a health care surrogate. Before doing so, you may want to ask potential candidates a few questions.
Do you intend to respect my wishes?
Your health care surrogate has the legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf during your incapacitation. While it is not necessary for your surrogate to agree with your wishes, he or she should be willing to advocate for them. If the candidate seems uncomfortable, you should probably keep looking.
Can you disagree with others?
Even though you have clear ideas about your own health care, your family members, friends and even doctors may disagree with your wishes. Therefore, your health care surrogate must be willing to resist the objections of others. If a candidate is a pushover, he or she may not be a good fit for the role.
Are you available?
Your doctors may need to act quickly. If your health care surrogate is not reachable, he or she may not be able to make timely decisions about your care. Consequently, you should be certain all candidates understand the commitment that comes with acting as a health care surrogate.
Ultimately, by having an in-depth conversation with everyone you are considering to be your health care surrogate, you can determine who is the right candidate for the job.