Here’s what a health care agent is and why you need one

This content is provided by JSSA.

We all wish for a life free from accidents and unexpected health crises. One of the things we have learned this year, however, is that our world can change in an instant and it is important to plan ahead. If you were to experience an emergency or a serious accident, would loved ones or those who matter most to you know what to do? Would they know who should make medical decisions for you if you can’t?

Most of us want to make our own decisions when it comes to our medical care, but sometimes that’s not possible and that’s where a health care agent comes in. Picking a person that you trust to speak for you if you are too sick to speak for yourself (a health care agent) helps ensure that your health care values and preferences are honored. Your agent should be someone you trust and who knows you very well, such as a family member, friend, coworker, or neighbor. Look for someone you can talk to about hard decisions and who will support your choices.

Be sure to tell your agent what you would want for medical treatments if you were unable to speak for yourself. There are no right or wrong answers, just what is important to you. After you pick your agent and share what type of health care and treatment you would prefer, it is good to write it all down in a document called an advance care plan. In an emergency, your health care agent and your advance care plan will give doctors guidance about the medical treatment and care you would want.

Voice Your Choice, a program of Nexus Montgomery led by JSSA, offers free webinars that will help you with selecting an agent and writing down your medical care preferences. Interested in learning more? Visit VoiceYourChoice.org for additional information about choosing a health care agent and getting started on your free advance care plan.

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