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Elder Resources: Health Care Proxy

The Proxy is a legal document recognized under Massachusetts law which enables you to choose a Health Care Agent (a person to speak for you if you ever become incapable of communicating or making decisions about your medical care). It differs from a living will which does not identify an individual with whom your doctor can discuss important medical decisions on your behalf. An agent is designated by means of a proxy, a document which meets certain formalities. The proxy may contain limitations on the agent's authority and specific instructions about medical care. The Health Care Proxy becomes effective only when the patient's attending physician has determined IN WRITING that the patient lacks capacity to make or communicate health care decisions. The patient may revoke the proxy at any time.

The Health Care Proxy is a simple legal document that allows you to name someone you know and trust to make health care decisions for you if, for any reason and at any time, you become unable to make or communicate those decisions. It is an important document, however, because it concerns not only the choices you make about your health care, but also the relationships you have with your physician, family, and others who may be involved with your care.

Your agent will make decisions about your health care ONLY when you are, for some reason, unable to do that yourself. This means that your agent can act for you if you are temporarily unconscious, in a coma, or have some other condition in which you cannot make or communicate health care decisions. Your agent cannot act for you ntil your doctor determines, in writing, that you lack the ability to make health care decisions.

Acting with your authority, your agent can make any health care decision that you could, if you were able.

Your agent will make decisions for you only after talking with your doctor or health care provider, and after fully considering all the options regarding diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of your illness or condition. Your agent has the legal right to get any information, including confidential medical information, necessary to make informed decisions for you.

Your agent will make health care decisions for you according to your wishes or according to his/her assessment of your wishes, including your religious or moral beliefs. You may wish to talk first with your doctor, religious advisor, or other people before giving instructions to your agent.

Massachusetts Health Care Proxy Sample

To receive your complete Health Care Proxy Educational Packet,
call 781-784-1966 or write PO Box 417, Sharon, MA 02067


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