A proxy directive (also called durable power of attorney for health care) is a legal document in which one person grants another person the authority to make medical decisions if he or she becomes unable to do so. The person chosen as the substitute decision-maker (or health care agent or proxy) should understand and respect the person's wishes about medical treatment.
A person must be mentally competent to complete this document. For this reason, a person with a progressive brain disorder (such as Alzheimer's disease) should consider drawing up this document as early as possible to avoid later problems as judgment becomes impaired.
The document should be stored in a safe but easily accessible place, and copies should be provided to one's doctor, attorney, and loved ones.
Medical Review:Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Shelly R. Garone, MD - Palliative Medicine & Robin L. Fainsinger, MB, ChB, LMCC, CCFP - Palliative Medicine & Jean S. Kutner, MD, MSPH - Geriatric Medicine, Palliative Medicine