Lisa Conway – Hometown News
Q: Who should I appoint health care surrogate if I don’t have children?
A: There are several things to consider when preparing your advance directives –and specifically your health care surrogacy documents.
Any competent adult 18 years or older can be your health care surrogate. Attorney Roger Klaffka, of Estate Planning and Elder Law Center of Brevard, reminds us, “The Designation of Health Care Surrogate form is documentation that designates your surrogate to make health care decisions and allows them to receive health information on your behalf.”
When you appoint someone as your health care surrogate (HCS), be sure to make them aware of your wishes. Klaffka notes, “Florida requires that your surrogate make only health care decisions which they believe you would have made under the circumstances –if you were capable of making such decisions.” However, a surrogate uninformed of your desires may make health care decisions contrary to your wishes, even with the best intentions.
- Location– It is often easier for a health care surrogate to advocate for you when they are geographically near. Will your HCS be readily available in an emergency situation?
- Stability and trustworthiness– Your HCS should be able to handle the demands of the role. Will they be able to remain level headed in a crisis? Can they carry out your wishes, putting aside their own beliefs or values?
- Physical and Mental ability – Is the candidate you are considering physically and mentally able to handle the responsibility? Are they dealing with issues that may prevent them from being available?
- Willingness – Importantly, discuss your intentions with your HCS choice and confirm they are willing to assume the role.
If you are struggling to find the right person for this vital role, there are other options– including the appointment of a professional care provider/agency. For more information about choosing a health care surrogate, please reach out to one of the Aging Life Care Professionals at One Senior Place.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at OneSeniorPlace.com. Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.