How to choose and guide your health care proxy
Make sure it’s someone you can trust, who’ll be able to carry out your wishes in a variety of circumstances and environments.
Imagine the people in your life as workers in a company that takes care of you. The job of health care proxy or health surrogate — the person who’ll make health care decisions for you if you become unable to make them yourself — would be considered a high-level executive. But many people leave that job vacant, or they give little direction to the person appointed to fill the role. If you do that, there might not be anyone to carry out your wishes.
How can you avoid that? You need to choose a health care proxy carefully, and then make clear to that person what you want. For advice on this challenging task, we turned to Dr. James Tulsky, chief of the Division of Palliative Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
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About the Author
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
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