Even if your family is involved in helping you make medical treatment
decisions, it is still important to choose one person to be your
substitute decision-maker (SDM). If you want one family member to be
able to make medical treatment decisions for you, appoint that person as your
SDM. Your family's right to make decisions for you may be limited unless you
have legally appointed an SDM.
Most provinces and territories allow you to choose more than one person at a time to be your
You may choose:
Your husband, wife, or partner.
child or grandchild.
Another family member.
If your province or territory allows, choose one or two alternate SDMs who can
fill the role if your primary SDM is not available or is not able to do
Choosing your SDM is an important decision. Not
everyone will be comfortable taking on this responsibility, so talk openly with
the person you choose before completing the process. Consider choosing someone
Is at least 18 years old.
well and understands what makes life meaningful for
Understands your religious and moral values.
honour your wishes and do what you want, not what he or she
Will be able to make difficult choices at a stressful
Will be able to refuse or stop treatment, if that is what you
would want, even if it may result in your death.
Will be assertive
with health professionals if needed.
Will be able to ask questions
of doctors and others to get the information needed to make
Lives near you or is willing and able to travel if
needed to make decisions for you.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerShelly R. Garone, MD, FACP - Palliative Medicine Robin L. Fainsinger, MBChB, LMCC, CCFP - Palliative Medicine