What is a healthcare proxy?
The person designed as a healthcare proxy will make medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make them yourself. Typically, this is part of legal pre-planning.
Why is a healthcare proxy important for someone with Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer's disease is one of the most emotionally draining and traumatic diseases for patients and families alike. The progressive, degenerative nature of Alzheimer's disease presents unique challenges for healthcare proxies. During the end stages of Alzheimer's disease, the patient typically loses the ability to communicate effectively with their loved ones, adding an additional burden to the healthcare proxy.
Planning ahead immediately following an Alzheimer's diagnosis empowers the person with Alzheimer's to choose someone to make health-related decisions when they become unable and gives the family the opportunity to talk openly about the person's wishes regarding end of life care, such as artificial nutrition, hydration and ventilators. This gives families the opportunity to resolve disagreements while not under the extreme stress and pressure of making a time sensitive decision.
Who should I appoint as my healthcare proxy?
Family members or close friends are typically appointed to serve as the healthcare proxy. No matter who you select, it is important that this person clearly understand your wishes, especially regarding end of life care and life-prolonging measures, and be comfortable acting on your wishes in the event that you are incapacitated.