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Health Care Planning

As people get older, they tend to have medical problems. The eyesight is not as good as before, hearing gets hard, and many other ills like these. You can't stop these maladies. But you can have a plan to tell the proper people how you want to be treated once you are unable to speak for yourself. There are two documents of interest here:

Medical Power of Attorney
A Medical Power of Attorney gives another person the authority to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. Unlike a Health Directive (see, below), this document does not necessarily state what type of treatment you want to receive. You can leave those decisions to your proxy (sometimes called an attorney-in-fact, agent or representative) if you feel comfortable doing so. Ideally, however, the two documents will work together.

Healthcare Directive (Living Wills)
A Healthcare Directive, also known as a Living Will, Directive to Physicians, or Medical Directive, sets out your wishes about what extended medical treatment should be withheld or provided if you become unable to communicate those wishes. The Directive creates a roadmap for care with the attending doctor. Once the doctor receives a properly signed and witnessed Directive, he or she is under a duty either to honor its instructions or to make sure the patient is transferred to another doctor who will. Many people mistakenly believe that healthcare directives are used only to instruct doctors to withhold life-prolonging treatments. In fact, some people want to reinforce that they would like to receive all medical treatment that is available-and a Living Will is the proper place to so do.

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