Important Healthcare Documents for Older Americans
The choices we make concerning our health and wellbeing are a highly personal matter. We all have the right to make our own decisions regarding how we care for and maintain our bodies and minds, and when we are ill, we have the right to choose the course of treatment that best serves our needs. While our individual right to make these types of choices is beyond question, there may come a time when our ability to make important decisions about our care and treatment is impaired. All too often, older adults put off conveying their wishes regarding end of life care until a crisis happens. Unfortunately, by then it is often too late. Making sure that important legal documents relating to healthcare are in place before we actually need them can provide both peace of mind now, as well as security in the future that your personal preferences and strongly held beliefs will be honored by those providing care.
Healthcare Documents Every Aging Adult Needs
Planning in advance for end of life needs ensures you get the care and treatments you desire, while not pushing these difficult choices onto family members. When an emergency arises, there can be a lot of painful confusion in trying to interpret what each person thinks a loved one may have wanted. When you add in the various opinions of doctors and hospital staff, it makes end of life decisions even more difficult. The end result can mean guardianship proceedings, which are often costly and time consuming. To avoid these issues, there are three important legal documents all older adults should have:
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects your individual health information. The purpose of HIPAA is to ensure your health information and medical records stay private, and prevents doctors or hospital staff from sharing this information without your written approval. By completing a HIPAA authorization form, you can authorize your doctor to reveal health information to a designated person as needed. This can allow a family member or loved one to make more informed choices regarding your care, as well as ensure you get the appropriate medical treatments you need.
A living will, also referred to as an advanced healthcare directive, allows you to decide the amount and type of care you wish to receive in end of life situations. A living will spares your family from having to make difficult decisions on your behalf, such as when to withhold treatments and your wishes regarding resuscitation and life support. By establishing a living will, you can ensure any final wishes or strongly held beliefs regarding end of life care are honored.
Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy serves as a medical power of attorney. Under New York law, you can designate a trusted person to make medical decisions for you in situations where you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. By appointing a health care agent, you can choose the amount of authority the person has in making healthcare decisions for you, and be sure that doctors and other medical providers follow your agent’s instructions the same as if you were communicating them yourself.
Contact Our Experienced Elder Law Attorneys
At Cavallo & Cavallo, our experienced New York elder law attorneys can help guide you through the various legal documents to ensure your assets are protected and your wishes are honored. We can help you and your loved ones achieve peace of mind regarding decisions about healthcare and medical treatments. With offices in the Bronx and Westchester, we’re your neighborhood law firm, providing efficient, effective legal representation to handle all your legal needs.