As a nursing home resident, you have a right to make decisions about the health care you get now and in the future. An advance directive is a written statement about how you want medical decisions made when you can no longer make them. Federal law requires that you be told of your right to make an advance directive when you are admitted to a health care facility. Texas has these types of advance directives:
- Medical Power of Attorney (Texas Medical POA)
- Living Will
Consult with a professional to learn what is available in your state.
Health Care Power of Attorney
The health care power of attorney lets you choose someone to make health care decisions for you if you cannot. You are called the "principal" in the power of attorney form and the person you choose is called your "agent".
You can use a standard form or write your own. You may give your agent specific directions about the health care you do or do not want.
The agent you choose cannot be your doctor or other health care provider. You should have someone who is not your agent witness your power of attorney. You can cancel your power of attorney by telling someone or by canceling it in writing. You can name a backup agent to act if the first one cannot or will not take action. If you want to change your power of attorney, you must do so in writing.
A living will lets you tell your doctor if you want death-delaying procedures used if you have a terminal condition and are unable to state your wishes. Withdrawal of food and water cannot be done if it would be the only cause of death.
You can use a standard living will form or write your own. You may write specific directions about the death-delaying procedures you do or do not want. The living will must be witnessed by two (2) people. Your doctor cannot be a witness. You must tell your doctor about the existence of a living will. You can cancel your living will by telling someone or by canceling it in writing. If you have both a health care power of attorney and a living will, the agent you name in the power of attorney will make your health care decisions unless he or she is unavailable.
You should talk to your family, your physician, or any agent or attorney-in-fact that you appoint about your decision to make an advance directive. If you speak frankly with them, they will find it easier to follow your wishes. If you change your mind and cancel your advance directive be sure to tell your family, your doctor, or any agent or attorney-in-fact you appoint.