Today is National Healthcare Decision Day, the day to name someone to speak for you when you can no longer speak for yourself.
Have you had a conversation yet with your family or close friends regarding who would make health care decisions for you if you were to lose the ability to make decisions for yourself? I am having this conversation with my own family, especially with my son, who is in US Air Force and is being deployed out of the country again in a couple of weeks. My son and I don't want the courts to make our health care decisions if we were to experience a sudden illness or tragedy that prevented us from making our own medical decisions. Filling out a health care proxy and getting it on the local registry is an easy and simple way to ensure our wishes are followed if we are unable to speak for ourselves.
The New York Health Care Proxy is a legal document that lets you name someone to make decisions about your medical care, including decisions about life-sustaining treatment. The Health Care Proxy form appoints someone to speak for you anytime you are unable to make your own medical decisions, not only at the end of life. The New York Living Will lets you state your wishes about medical care in the event that you develop an irreversible condition that prevents you from making your own medical decisions. The Living Will becomes effective if you become terminally ill, permanently unconscious or minimally conscious due to brain damage and will never regain the ability to make decisions. People who want to be specific about what types of medical treatments they will accept at the end of life usually use the New York Living Will. Both health care proxies and living wills are important documents to ensure your wishes are known and your decisions are honored if you can not speak for yourself.
Locally, Chautauqua County Health Network is encouraging everyone over the age of 18 to fill out a health care proxy. The Chautauqua County Heath Network has developed a unique electronic registry that can store your proxy so your health care team can easily access it. The healthcare proxy registry is a secure server that allows Chautauqua County doctors and EMS to view and contact your proxy during an emergency. Filling out a proxy is easy and there is no cost to having your proxy on the registry. Office for the Aging is partnering up with Chautauqua County Health Network to ensure that your future health care choices are known and protected. New York Health Care Proxy forms are also available at any of our offices, or you can call the NY Connects Helpline at 753-4582, 363-4582 or 661-7582.
For more information on New York Health Care Proxy, contact the Chautauqua County Health Network at 338-0010 or visit their website at www.cchn.net. For more information on living wills and other Advance Care Planning documents, visit www.CompassionAndSupport.org.