Signs of physical or cognitive health issues may cause families to review or create an estate plan. With up-to-date documentation, you or a loved one could prepare for an emergency. In addition to other matters, estate plans may provide instructions on caring for a vulnerable senior.
U.S. News reports that when an individual begins to age, cognitive deterioration may influence decision-making. If an estate plan includes a power of attorney, naming a representative allows that individual to assist with personal affairs. Preparing the legal documents before an injury or illness occurs means having someone ready to help. The individual could manage medical treatments or at-home health care.
Discussing medical issues
Without an established estate plan, unexpected hospitalizations may lead to unwanted outcomes. The National Institute on Aging’s website notes that during emergencies, doctors generally make decisions intended to prolong their patients’ lives.
If you prefer not to receive life-prolonging treatments, an advance directive authorizes your agent to communicate your wishes. You may, for example, describe procedures that you prefer to receive instead of CPR or ventilation. Your named health care proxy may then discuss your treatments with medical professionals if you become incapacitated.
Choosing an ideal health care agent
The American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging offers tips on choosing a health care agent. You may consider naming someone with strong advocacy skills who could handle the responsibility of discussing life-and-death matters. You may also name a backup proxy. A well-chosen agent understands your needs. He or she also remains composed while discussing your end-of-life affairs with doctors, relatives and friends.
Estate plans that include advance care planning could offer seniors a chance to discuss medical preferences with a trusted agent before an issue develops. During an emergency, your chosen proxy may also help reduce family anxiety and medical disagreements.