Joe Robach of Rochester knows that seniors have important questions about health care proxies.  Filling out a Health Care Proxy and selecting a health care agent are not decisions to be taken lightly.  These topics warrant talking to your family, close friends and family doctor.

The New York health care proxy law allows you to appoint someone you trust – for example, a family member or close friend – to decide about treatment if you lose the ability to decide for yourself.  You can appoint someone by signing a form called a healthcare proxy.  Joe Robach provides these forms to seniors and/or any resident who would like one. You can give the person you appoint, “your health care agent”, as little or as much authority as you want.  You can allow your health care agent to decide about all health care or only certain treatments.  You can also give your agent instructions that he or she has to follow.  Your agent can then make sure that health care professionals follow your wishes and you can decide how your wishes apply as your medical conditions change.  Hospitals, doctors and other health care providers must follow your agent’s decision as if it’s your own.

A health care proxy is different than a “living will.”   A living will is a document that provides specific instructions about health care treatment.  It is generally used to declare wishes to refuse life-sustaining treatment under certain circumstances.  In contrast, the health care proxy allows you to choose someone you trust to make treatment decisions on your behalf.  Unlike a living will, a health care proxy does not require you to know in advance all the decisions that may arise.  Instead, your health care agent can interpret your wishes as medical circumstances change and you can make decisions you could not have known would have to be made.  The health care proxy is just as useful to receive treatment as it is for decisions to stop treatment.  If you complete a Health Care Proxy Form, but also have a living will, the living will provides instructions for your health care agent, and will guide his or her decisions.

If seniors need more information about health care proxies, they should contact Joe Robach’s office.