For many seniors, the first answer to this question is themselves. You should never be afraid to advocate for your own health care, ask questions to ensure you understand treatment options and voice your concerns and desires. In fact, the law protects your rights to some of these things, such as the ability to access copies of your medical records so you can remain as informed as possible.
If you're ever confused about your health care options, your medication or other issues, you can reach out to the licensed nurses and other staff members at Bethesda Gardens in Arlington. While we can't make decisions on your behalf, we are always willing to help explain issues to you so you can make a more educated choice.
For individuals of any age, the possibility that they may not always be in a position to make their own choices does exist. If you become incapacitated by injury or illness and are not able to communicate your wishes for any reason, then medical staff must turn to someone else for those decisions.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services provides forms so you can legally convey decisions about end-of-life or life-saving care to another person that you trust. This way, someone who knows you and has your best interests and the spirit of your wishes in mind, can make decisions on your behalf. These forms are called advance directives, and you can access them online.
Choosing someone to make these decisions for you may seem daunting, and it's certainly not a task that should be taken lightly. Here's a checklist to consider when choosing your health care proxy.
Do you have a close relative you trust to carry out your wishes? Many people assign their health care proxy to a spouse, sibling, adult child or other loved one. If you go this route, make sure you have a clear discussion about your wishes and that the person is emotionally able to put your decisions and needs above their own.
Is the person going to be accessible? If health care professionals can't contact your proxy in a timely manner, they may not be able to communicate on your behalf. Consider the other person's life situation and reachability when making this decision.
Is the other person willing to take on this burden? Making health care decisions on your behalf can be emotional or stressful. It's best not to assume someone will be willing and able to do this. Whenever possible, discuss your choice with the person before finalizing the paperwork.